Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl: Preview and Pick

The North Carolina State Wolfpack will face the Central Florida Knights in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl on Friday, December 26.

During the regular season, North Carolina State was 7-5, while Central Florida was 9-3.

The current line has Central Florida favored by 2.5 points with the point total sitting on 49.

The last time we saw UFC, the Knights stormed the field Hail Mary catch from Breshad Perriman was completed to beat East Carolina. That win helped UCF claim a three-way share of the American Athletic Conference title.

The win is what helped the UCF team to earn a berth in this bowl game against the Wolfpack, which has won 3 of its past 4 games.

The teams split their 2 previous meetings, with NC State enjoying a 28-21 win back in 2010.

While UCF seeks its 4th consecutive victory, North Carolina State returns to bowl action following a disappointing 2013 season where the team was 3-9.

The Knights have one of the best defenses in the nation, which is led by Terrance Plummer a linebacker and Jacoby Glenn a cornerback, who is tied for No. 3 in the nation with 7 interceptions. Plummer has 92 tackles, which is a team-high for the Knights. UCF is allowing only 17.5 points per game.

UCF’s strong defense will be tested by the Wolfpack offense that easily outscored its previous 2 opponents.

The Knights defense is ranked No. 5 in the nation against the rush, but NC State rushed for 388 yards in a victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels in the final game of the regular season.

Shadrach Thornton has 161 yards rushing on 28 attempts to lead the Wolfpack in their win over UNC.

After leading during the first quarter 24-7 against Florida State on September 27, the Wolfpack fell apart and lost, and followed that loss with two more consecutive losses.

Jacoby Brissett the Wolfpack quarterback is the owner of a 22-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season.

He has also run for 498 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns.

The Wolfpack defense is led by Mike Rose who has recorded 14 tackles-for-a-loss to lead a defense that allowed only 15.7 points in the team’s 7 victories.

The Knights opened their regular season with losses against Missouri and Penn State before 5 consecutive wins, including a victory against BYU in overtime 31-24.

While their defense has stood out this season, the offense had its problems scoring prior to averaging 33 points during its 4 games winning streaks to close the regular season.

Justin Holman the Knights’ quarterback has thrown for 20 touchdowns while giving up 13 interceptions.

Pick: UCF 28-13

It All Comes Down to One Final Week of College Football

Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs should have no trouble with Iowa State but you never know.

It’s a big week in college football with all sorts of bowl spots on the line. Chief among them are those four coveted playoff spots.

Iowa State (+34.5) at TCU (O/U 69) – The Cyclones enter at 2-9 and this very well could be Paul Rhoades final game coaching the Cyclones. Only one time all season did ISU get beat by more than 34 points and that was a 59-14 loss to Oklahoma.

With everything that TCU is playing for, I still can’t see the Cyclones getting beaten by that much unless they just flat-out give up.

The Pick: Take ISU and the UNDER.

Kansas State (+8) at Baylor (O/U 67) – The Wildcats have already faced TCU and lost 41-20. The pressure is now on the Bears to win by that margin at least. Why? Because the playoff committee clearly doesn’t care about the Bears’ head-to-head win over the Horned Frogs, Baylor needs a monster win over K-State because what is prized by the committee is schedule strength.

Kansas State plays well defensively but it will be their offense that keeps them in this game. Baylor’s fortunes will depend on the health of Bryce Petty who missed time last week with a concussion.

The Pick: Baylor will know it’s fate because TCU’s game will have ended about three hours before they kick off. That will be a factor… Take the Wildcats getting the points and the UNDER.


Mauk needs to have a turnover-free game if the Tigers are to upset the Crimson Tide.

Missouri (+14.5) vs. Alabama (O/U 49) – Not too bad for the Tigers; two years in the SEC and two SEC East titles. Last year, Mizzou gave Auburn a valiant effort in the SEC Title game before losing and now they have to contend with the Crimson Tide.

Missouri’s defense will give Alabama some problems. They’ve only given up one 100-yard receiving performance this season while the Tide’s Amari Cooper has seven himself. Mizzou also gets to the QB which could be a problem if Blake Sims starts making poor decisions.

The problem for the Tigers is that I’m not convinced their offense can put up the kind of points they are going to need to win. Gary Pinkel is a solid coach and he’ll need every trick in the book to win this win.

The Pick: A late score gives Bama the cover and I like the OVER.

Florida State (-4) vs. Georgia Tech (O/U 61) – The Yellow Jackets are without top receiver Deandre Smelter who has a knee injury. That could be a factor should Georgia Tech get behind and be forced to throw the ball.

That’s not the game plan though and Florida State knows it. The Yellow Jackets will run the ball and will run it and run it and run it some more. Tech is not great defensively per se but they won’t be a rollover either.

Jameis Winston cannot afford another four turnover game because of the time GT takes off the clock on each possession.

The Pick: Take the Noles to cover on another late TD and take the UNDER.

Wisconsin (-4) vs Ohio State (O/U 53) – Cardale Jones takes over under center for the Buckeyes after J.T. Barrett went down for the season last weekend at against Michigan. A lot of national pundits are jumping on the Wisconsin bandwagon with Barrett out but don’t count out Ohio State just yet. Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman will develop a gameplan that fits Jones who is much bigger than Barrett of Braxton Miller.

Wisconsin has a very good defense that will be tested by athletes for the first time really since the opener against LSU. The Badgers will no doubt ride the running game with Melvin Gordon against a Buckeyes’ defense that has struggled against the run.

The Pick: I like OSU getting the points and the UNDER.


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

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.

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.

College Football Conference Championship Lines and Trends

This is championship week in college football with a number of conferences playing their conference championship games.

MAC – Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green

Northern Illinois is 10-2 and 6-6 ATS, while Bowling Green is 7-5 SU and 4-7-1 ATS.

Friday night, the two will face off in Detroit, Michigan. NIU has opened as a 3-point favorite.

This is the fifth consecutive season Northern Illinois will be vying for the trophy. The Huskies are 2-2 in the previous four.

The two teams played in last year’s MAC Championship with Bowling Green winning 47-27.

The underdog is 5-1 ATS over the past 6 championship games.

Pac-12 – Arizona vs. Oregon

Arizona is 10-2 SU and 5-7 ATS, while Oregon is 11-1 SU and 8-4 ATS.

The two will meet on Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Oregon has opened as a favorite by 13.5 points.

This is the fourth championship game for the Pac-12. The favorite is 2-1 SU and 0-3 ATS in the first three Pac-12 championship games.

The Pac-12 North is 3-0 SU in the first three championships.

Arizona was a road dog by 21.5 points in October and defeated Oregon 31-21.

SEC – Alabama vs. Missouri

Alabama is 11-1 SU and 4-8 ATS, while Missouri is 10-2 SU and 8-4 ATS.

Alabama meets Missouri for the SEC championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

Alabama opened as the favorite by 10.5 points but that has increased already to 13 points.

In the SEC championship, the underdog is 11-10-1 ATS.

The SEC West is 5-0 SU in the past 5 SEC championship games. Missouri lost in last year’s championship to Auburn by 17 points as a favorite by 2.5 points.

The teams last met in 2012 with Alabama winning 42-10.

ACC – Florida State vs. Georgia Tech

Florida State is undefeated at 12-0 SU and 3-9 ATS, while Georgia Tech is 10-2 SU and 5-1 ATS.

Florida State will defend its ACC title against Georgia Tech at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Florida State was a 5.5-point favorite to open but it is now just 4 points.

FSU is 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS in its four prior trips to the ACC Championship. Georgia Tech is 1-2 SU in its three trips.

The two played in the ACC Championship in 2012 with FSU winning 21-15.

Big 10 – Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

Ohio State is 11-1 SU and 7-5 ATS, while Wisconsin is 10-2 SU and 7-5 ATS.

Ohio State plays Wisconsin for the Big 10 title in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Wisconsin is favored by 4 points.

The underdog is 1-2 SU in the 3 prior Big 10 championship games.

Wisconsin is 2-0 SU in two Big 10 title games and Ohio State is 0-1 SU.

T.J. Barrett the OSU quarterback is out with broken ankle.

Ohio State is 4-1 SU in its past 5 games head to head with Wisconsin.

Lots of Leftovers for Your Wagering Plate

Saturday is likely the end for Brady Hoke's tenure at Michigan.

Today would normally be a day to sit down and give you the breakdown on a handful of college games that are going on today and tomorrow. Instead, I’m going to give you much more. Kind of like how you went back for more turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc.

Loosen your belt and enjoy. (My picks are in BOLD)

Northern Illinois (+7) at Western Michigan – Both teams are tied atop the MAC West with Toledo at 6-1. WMU has won six-straight but needs help while a NIU win gives them the title.

Virginia (-1) at Virginia Tech – Both teams enter at 5-6. The winner goes bowling while the loser goes home and perhaps starts searching for a new head coach.

Nebraska (EVEN) at Iowa – There are some suggesting this game could determine Bo Pelini’s fate in Lincoln while Kirk Ferentz appears to be in Iowa City for life.

Arkansas (-3) at Missouri – The Razorbacks are playing as well right now as any team in the country. They’ve posted back-to-back shutouts over LSU and Ole Miss. A Mizzou win gives them the SEC East title.

Rich Rodriguez and his Wildcats host rival Arizona State in a game with major implications.

Arizona State (+2.5) at Arizona – This one is simple. The winner stays alive in the Pac-12 South race while the loser is out. This is one of the great rivalries in college football that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Stanford (+6) at UCLA – The disappointing season of Stanford finishes in the Rose Bowl where it all unraveled last season in a loss to Michigan State. The Bruins appear to be peaking and remain a long-shot for the college football playoff should chaos ensue at the top.

Saturday’s Action

Michigan (+21) at Ohio State – Brady Hoke needs a win just to make UM officials even consider keeping him. The Buckeyes have been heavy favorites before against the Wolverines but have struggled to win. Not today… This one will get ugly.

Minnesota (+14) at Wisconsin – Minnesota has to be ticked at being a two-touchdown dog at Wisconsin. The Gophers have played well in wins and losses this season and this one is for the Big 10 West title. Look for lots of running in this one.

Washington (-3) at Washington State – The Battle for the Apple Cup features the bowl-bound Huskies against a Cougars’ team that has struggled all season. Mike Leach’s job security in Pullman can only be described as “not very good” at the moment.

Baylor (-25) at Texas Tech – TCU is in the clubhouse at 11-1 after drubbing Texas. Baylor now must hold serve in order to keep their playoff chances alive. The Red Raiders can score points but their defense is…. Going to be abused today. Normally anything over 21 points scares me but not today.

Georgia Tech (+13) at Georgia – The Yellow Jackets are already in the ACC Title game against Florida State. The Bulldogs will already know if they are in the SEC Title game by the time they wake up today. Either way, I expect home-field to be important.

Oregon (-20) at Oregon State – What a disappointing season this has been for the Beavers. I expected so much more from Sean Mannion and company… The Ducks know the drill; win today and win the Pac-12 title and they’re in the playoff. OSU won’t go easily though and keeps it close.

Auburn (+9) at Alabama – Nothing can top last year’s game so let’s forget that right now. Bama has been a machine at home this season while Auburn has really fallen apart in recent weeks.

Florida (+7.5) at Florida State – The Seminoles have done nothing easy all season and that will continue today. In Will Muschamp’s final game coaching the Gators, I expect them to keep it close.

Rivalries Highlight Several of the Games I Like in College Football Today

P.J. Fleck
P.J. Fleck
Under the direction of P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan has has the best turnaround in college football this season.

Today I’m giving you three in-depth games I like plus a few more just for kicks.

Western Michigan (+1) at Central Michigan (O/U 52.5) – If you talk with anyone that really knows college football then they’ll tell you that this rivalry is one of the most heated and most under-rated in the sport. The schools are about three hours from each and the fans travel well for both teams.

At Western, Coach P.J. Fleck is in the midst of the best turnaround in college football. His Broncos were 1-11 last season and now stand at 7-3 with a chance to win the MAC West Division. At Central, Dan Enos has quietly improved the Chippewas and they now stand at 7-4.

CMU is usually very good at home and with the weather scheduled to be fairly mild in Mid-Michigan I expect a lot of scoring.

Trends: Western Michigan 5-0 straight up in their last five games… Central Michigan is 5-1 straight up in their last six games… WMU is 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games at Central Michigan… The Chippewas have won six of their last eight games against the Broncos.

The Pick: Take CMU in a tight game and take the OVER.

Mora, Jr
JIm Mora, Jr and the Bruins are looking for their third-straight win over USC today.

USC (+3) at UCLA (O/U 61) – The Trojans have won seven of the last ten in this rivalry but the Bruins have won the last two. A third-straight win by UCLA would also give them three-straight nine win seasons which hasn’t happened in while.

Both teams have no problem scoring points and I think the scoreboard will get a workout on Saturday in the Rose Bowl.

Trends: USC is 7-2 straight up in their last nine games on the road… UCLA is 2-5 SU against the Trojans the last seven times they’ve played in the Rose Bowl… The total has gone UNDER in four of USC’s last five games at UCLA… The Bruins are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games at home.

The Pick: I like the Bruins to cover and take the OVER.

Stanford (-5) at Cal (O/U 56.5) – Regardless of what happens today in Berkley, nothing will ever trump the 1982 “The Band is on the Field” game. It was the craziest finish in college football history.

Today’s game features one team continuing its’ turn-around season and another trying to pick up the pieces of a bad season few saw coming. The Bears were just 1-11 last season in year one under Sonny Dykes while the Cardinal enjoyed another Pac-12 title.

This should be a crazy game with Cal’s offense ranking near the top of the nation and their defense ranking near the bottom.

Trends: Stanford is 1-5-1 against the spread in their last seven games… Cal is 2-6 ATS in their last nine games when playing Stanford at home… The total has gone UNDER in four of Stanford’s last six games when playing at Cal… The Bears are 4-2 straight up in their last six games against Stanford when playing at home.

The Pick: Take Cal getting the points and take the OVER.

Other Games

Minnesota (+10) at Nebraska – I can’t see Pelini losing two straight. Take them to cover.

Louisville (+3.5) at Notre Dame – A third loss puts the Irish back into another meaningless bowl game. Take them to cover.

Ole Miss (-3.5) at Arkansas – I have a feeling last week’s win over LSU was no fluke for the Hogs. I like them getting the points.

Tennessee Suspensions and Weekend Trends

This week’s college football lineup has some interesting storylines. One of those involves the Tennessee Volunteers. Just when Butch Jones the head coach seemed to have his team headed in the right direction with two consecutive wins against Kentucky and South Carolina, bad news arrived earlier in the week.

A.J. Johnson the team’s star linebacker and Michael Williams the talented sophomore cornerback  were indefinitely suspended from all activities related to the team pending a police investigation.

Williams and Johnson are involved in allegations of sexual assault stemming from a Sunday morning incident in Knoxville.

Johnson is the SEC leader with 101 tackles, while Williams has 23 tackles and has started five games.

The Volunteers through early Friday were still favored on Bovada and topbet by 3.5 points over Missouri their opponent on Saturday.

Missouri, after defeating Texas A&M 34-27 as a 3.5-point road dog, has cashed in 8 straight road games. Dating back as far as 2007, Missouri is 25-9 against the number in their past 34 games on the road, according to betonline and

 Quick Tips

  • Notre Dame has two linemen on defense out for their Louisville game at home. Both Daniel Cage and Sheldon Day will be sidelined with injuries to their knees. Everett Golson at quarterback is probable with a shoulder injury. The Irish are favored by 3.
  • Marshawn Williams the running back from Virginia Tech has an ACL tear. The top three rushers for VT have gone down injured this season. Virginia Tech is favored on Saturday over Wake Forest by 15 points, but is 1-7 ATS over their past 8 games as a favorite on the road.
  • Arkansas defeated LSU last week 17-0 for its first SEC victory under Bret Bielema. The Razorbacks are 8-1 ATS in their past 9 games. This weekend they are 3-point home dogs against Ole Miss. As a favorite on the road under Huge Freeze, Ole Miss is 3-3 ATS. The Razorbacks are 2-3 ATS playing as a dog at home during Bielema’s tenure there.
  • Daxx Garman the quarterback at Oklahoma State is questionable for the Cowboys games against Baylor on Saturday.
  • Cody Thomas will start at Oklahoma under center for the second consecutive game. Trevor Knight is out after suffering a concussion in the Sooners loss at home to Baylor.
  • Connecticut is 1-3 ATS as a dog at home this season, but 20-7 ATS since 2005 as home dogs.

Is Tonight the Night the Raiders Break Through?

Tony Sparano is looking for that first win of the season in Oakland as the Chiefs come to town.

The Oakland Raiders host the Kansas City Chiefs tonight looking for their first win while in college football there are two key conference games worth your time.

Kansas City (-7.5) at Oakland (O/U 43) – In their last 10 meetings, the Chiefs own a 6-4 advantage over Oakland but they are separated by just two points per game in that stretch. Oakland is of course the only remaining winless team in the NFL while Kansas City is 7-3 and tied atop the AFC West with Denver.

Two things to think about here; any time the spread goes over a full touchdown you have to pay close attention to the underdog especially at home. Secondly, we have to wonder if the Chiefs aren’t ready for a letdown.

They’ve won five in a row and are coming off of a very emotional statement win over Seattle. Against almost any other team on the road I’d strongly consider that second point but I’m not so sure in this case.

If the Raiders can protect Derek Carr they may have a chance, otherwise, forget it.

Key Injuries: KC WR A.J. Jenkins OUT/Shoulder… OAK CB Carlos Rogers OUT/Knee

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in seven of the Chiefs last nine trips to Oakland… The Raiders are 1-8 against the spread in their last nine games at home… The Chiefs are 5-0 straight up in their last five contests… Oakland is 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games at home against the Chiefs.

The Pick: I like the Raiders getting the points but KC to win. Take the UNDER as well.

Clint Trickett plays his final home game for the Mountaineers tonight in Morgantown.

Kansas State (+2) at West Virginia (O/U 57.5) – The Mountaineers own a home victory over Baylor and a near victory over TCU. With that in mind, K-State Head Coach Bill Snyder knows this will be no picnic for his Wildcats in Morgantown.

Behind QB Clint Trickett, WVU has little problem moving the ball and scoring but that had a bit of a hiccup last week in Austin as the Longhorns held them to just 16 points. The Wildcats’ offense isn’t too bad either ranking 20th nationally in scoring and their defense is also in the top 25 as well.

This game is ultimately about bowl positioning. The Wildcats feel they can still climb into that upper echelon of bowls if they finish 10-2 while West Virginia hopes to raise its’ bowl profile as well.

Trends: Kansas State is 4-1 straight up in their last five games on the road… WVU is 4-2 in their straight up in their last six games… The total has gone OVER in five of the Wildcats’ last six games on the road… The Mountaineers are 3-6 straight up in their last nine games at home.

The Pick: I love the Wildcats getting the points and take the OVER too.

North Carolina (+6) at Duke (O/U 66.5) – The Blue Devils had everything in place for another ACC Coastal Division title. They had just one loss and had their final three games at home against conference opponents. Phase one did not go well as the Devils lost to Virginia Tech 17-16. All is not lost however because now they have a very average Tar Heels team coming in tonight followed by a woeful Wake Forest team in the finale.

UNC won’t roll over though because a win makes them bowl-eligible and this after all is a rivalry game. It isn’t what it is on the hardwood but it still is for serious bragging rights.

Trends: UNC is 5-11 against the spread in their last 16 games on the road…The Blue Devils are 1-8 straight up in their last nine home games against the Tar Heels… The total has gone OVER in four of North Carolina’s last five games on the road at Duke… The Blue Devils have gone 4-1 straight up in their last five games.

The Pick: Duke rides its’ defense and covers. Take the OVER tonight.

One Game Headlines Saturday College Football Schedule

College Football enters week 12 with a number of good matchups, but one is the clear headliner, when it comes to the national championship.

However, any game that has a point spread and an over/under point total is interesting.

The headliner between Alabama, which is No. 5 in the last College Football Playoff off rankings, will host Mississippi State, which is No. 1.

Nearly all the action is on Alabama, which Bovada and betonline, say has driven up the line to nearly a 10 point spread with Alabama favored at home.

Florida State enters the weekend at No. 3 in the CFP rankings and must visit arch rival Miami. The Seminoles are favored by just 2.5 points, according to topbet and sportsbook com. Do you remember prior to the start of the season, when Florida State was a double –digit favorite on the futures board for every game?

Other Saturday Games

Ohio State at Minnesota

The Buckeyes are favored by 13.5 points. In the 9 Ohio State games this season, 8 have cashed on the OVER. The Buckeyes must avoid a letdown after defeating Michigan State last week.

TCU enters the game favored by 28 points. The Horned Frogs are 8-1 against the number this season. The Kansas offense and defense are poor and that should help TCU to easily cover.

Nebraska at Wisconsin

The OVER has cashed in three straight games between the two schools. That trend will likely continue in this matchup, with both schools having a superior running attack that will continue moving the chains.

Mississippi State at Alabama

The Crimson Tide is favored by 9.5 points. Many believe Alabama is far superior and that the line will be up to 10.5 or 11 before the kickoff Saturday afternoon.

Auburn at Georgia

Georgia has a number of weapons offensively now that running back Todd Gurley was reinstated. Auburn faces a letdown after its loss last week. This could be an even better matchup than Mississippi State and Alabama.

LSU at Arkansas

LSU could see a letdown after suffering a heartbreaking loss last week. However, with that in mind, many are surprised to see Arkansas favored after losing 17 consecutive games against SEC opponents.

Florida State at Miami

This matchup throws out regular season records. The bitter rivalry will be a close battle. Miami has Duke Johnson one of the best running backs in college football, while Florida State has Jameis Winston to guide its potent offense.

Arizona State at Oregon State

Arizona State is in a tough spot laying 7.5 points on the road. ASU is winless at Reser Stadium since 2005. The point total in only 2 of the past 10 games has reached a combined 60 points.

Key Games Involving Teams Looking for a Playoff Berth

If Miami is to upset the 'Noles, Duke Johnson will need to have a big game.

Florida State (-3) at Miami (O/U 61.5) –  For the first time in a long time Miami enters the Florida State game with a legitimate chance to knock off the Seminoles. They’ve won four of five and they are powered by their fantastic running back Duke Johnson. That said, they’ll need more than just him to pull off the upset.

With Jameis Winston’s Title IX hearing pushed back to the first week of December I think you’ll see him play a little better. His off-field problems won’t be front and center in his mind. The defense will focus on Johnson and will force the Canes’ passing game to beat them.

Trends: FSU is 2-8 against the spread in their last 10 games… The total has gone UNDER in nine of Miami’s last 13 games against the Seminoles… Florida State is 4-1 straight up in their last five games when playing Miami on the road… The Hurricanes are 2-4 ATS in their last six game at home against FSU.

The Pick: The Seminoles just keep finding ways to win and I think it continues in a fairly tight game. Take them to cover and take the UNDER.

Dak Prescott faces his biggest challenge against the Alabama defense.

Mississippi State (+8) at Alabama (O/U 52) – A top-ranked team has been this much of an underdog since the 2013 BCS Title game when Bama was favored over #1 Notre Dame by ten.

A lot of people look at this current Alabama team as being a bit flawed. They’ve got a few injuries and the offense other than Amari Cooper isn’t all that exciting but then you look at the numbers. The defense is giving up more than 150 yards less than the Bulldogs’ defense does.

Offensively the Tide are out-passing Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs but trail them in running the football. Normally I’d say this should be a close game but I just don’t feel that way here. Bama plays in these games all the time while Mississippi State is facing its’ most important game in their history.

Trends: Mississippi State is 1-7 straight up in their last eight games when playing at Alabama… The total has gone UNDER in six of Alabama’s last seven games against the Bulldogs… Miss. State is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games against the Crimson Tide… Bama is 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 games.

The Pick: I have a feeling Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide will roll. Take them to cover and take the UNDER as well.

Arizona State (-9) at Oregon State (61.5) – The Sun Devils’ win over Notre Dame has catapulted them into college playoff discussion and rightfully so. Now they must go to a place where they haven’t won since 2005 if they wish to keep that talk going.

The Beavers have lost four straight games and three of those were at home. Senior Quarterback Sean Mannion entered this season as a top NFL prospect but he’s been hampered by an poor offensive line that has seen him get sacked 28 times.

In most years I’d worry about ASU going to Corvallis especially after such a big win but I’m not so sure this time around.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in all five of ASU’s last five games at Oregon State… The Beavers are 1-7 against the spread in their last 8 games at home… The Sun Devils are 0-5 ATS in their last five games against Oregon State… The Beavers are 2-6 straight up in their last eight games home.

The Pick: The Beavers still need a win to become bowl eligible and still face Oregon as well. I don’t think it matters as I like the Sun Devils to cover and I like the OVER.

Two Other Games

TCU (-28.5) at Kansas – Any time a spread goes over four touchdowns I run and hide. Take the Jayhawks.

Ohio State (-14) at Minnesota – The Buckeyes are coming of an emotional win in East Lansing and now have to deal with a very good Gophers’ team. I sense a letdown. Take Minnesota.