Irish are Underdogs at Home vs Sooners

End of September, leaves starting to turn and Saturday college football between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Life for a college football fan just cannot get much better.

The Oklahoma Sooners enter this matchup on Saturday afternoon with an overall record of 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS. The Sooners started the season, in an early line as the underdogs in this matchup, but after changing quarterbacks and an open week to make more preparations, the Sooners are now the favorites in sportsbooks like topbet and Bovada.

Sooner quarterback Blake Bell, in just his first start at Oklahoma on September 14, had 413 yards passing and four touchdowns versus Tulsa.

Bell, often times used prior in short-yardage situations, replaced Trevor Knight the starting quarterback and gave Oklahoma the spark they have missed all season.

Notre Dame enter this matchup 3-1 SU and 0-3-1 ATS. Their offensive spark is still missing with Tommy Rees at quarterback. Last week the Irish squeaked out a victory over Michigan State but only gained 220 yards on offense.

The current line has the Sooners as the favorite on most sportsbooks by 3.5 points. When the first lines were released this summer, sportsbooks such as betonline and topbet had the Irish as a 1-point favorite.

However, those changed over the past 10 days due to the Irish not playing well offensively and the change Oklahoma made inserting Bell into the lineup.

Last season, the Irish were dogs by 10.5 points at Norman and defeated the Sooners easily 30-13. The Irish defense held the Sooners to just 15 yards on the ground.

This is just the third game that the Irish are dogs at home since Brian Kelly took over as head coach four seasons ago. In those two previous home games the Irish were underdogs, Notre Dame was 1-1 ATS.

Oklahoma’s defense has played stellar this season, allowing just nine points a game. However, they have faced weak competition thus far and even though the offense of Notre Dame is not explosive, it is better than any Oklahoma has seen to date.

The Irish defense is not what it has been over the past three seasons. The team ranks No. 96 in the nation in 3rd down defense, which means they spend more than their share of time on the field defending.

Pick: I like the Sooners late, 21-17.

Gators lose Driskel, Mariota Leads Heisman Watch

Week four in college football did not have many intriguing matchups or the hype that week two and three had.

The Florida Gators created the biggest news of the weekend when Jeff Driskel their starting quarterback broke his tibia and was lost for the season. Last season he led Florida to 11 wins and berth in the Sugar Bowl.

Tyler Murphy, a junior will now start for the Gators. He played well when he replaced Driskel on Saturday against Tennessee. He had 134 yards in the air with one touchdown pass and 84 yards rushing with one touchdown on 10 carries.

He showed a strong arm, a great deal of poise, quickness scrambling and a knack for rushing. After seeing Murphy last Saturday, the Gators should not miss a beat without Driskel.

Thursday Game

This week the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets host the Virginia Tech Hokies. GT is favored on most books by 4.5 points, but on others such as Bovada and sportsbooks.com the spread has been up and down between 4-5 points.

The Hokies have won three straight since losing on opening day to Alabama. The game should be close with the Hokies strong defense, if they can slow the rushing attack of the Yellow Jackets. Take the Hokies and the points.

Top Three Heisman Watch

At the top of the list is Marcus Mariota who is 5 to 1 on most books such as topbet and betonline. He did not play last week due to an open date for the team. Oregon should crush California this weekend. Thus far, he has seven touchdown passes, four touchdowns rushing and no interceptions.

Johnny Manziel has lowered his odds to win the Heisman to 6 to 1 from 10 to 1. He has helped his Texas A&M team to an average of over 50 points per game. He is completing nearly 70% of his passes and has already accumulated over 1,200 yards in the air with 12 touchdown passes and 4 interceptions. He has rushed for 255 yards with three touchdowns.

Third is Teddy Bridgewater the quarterback at Louisville. His odds are now at 7 to 1. He has 14 touchdown passes, which is second in the country and has only one interception.

Tidbits

Paul James the Rutgers running back has 573 yards on the ground and is second in the nation, but will miss the next two games due to an injury and Rutgers must face Louisville during his time out.

Ole Miss during Hugh Freeze’s time as head coach has played eight way games compiling a record of 7-1 ATS. They are underdogs this week by 16.5 points at Alabama. They might be a good road ‘dog pick for the week.

NCAA Week 4 Opening Lines have a few Marquee Matchups

The opening lines on week 4 in college football were released on Monday with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish seeing early action in their game against Michigan State this weekend. The Irish are 0-3 ATS this season after a late rally to beat Purdue.

Following the Alabama vs. Texas A&M game and other great matchups, it is no wonder the there are few marquee matchups on tap amongst ranked teams.

Some of the bigger games that sportsbooks online such a topbet are expecting to draw attention are Michigan vs. Norte Dame, Auburn vs. LSU and Arizona State vs. Stanford. The Friday night matchup between Boise State and Fresno State might be a prelude to the championship game of the Mountain West Conference.

Bovada opened the Fighting Irish, ranked No. 22 in the nation as a 7.5-point favorite versus the Spartans. The Irish rallied late Saturday night to beat the Boilermakers of Purdue. The Irish are 2-1 SU and 0-3 ATS, while Michigan State is 3-0 SU and 1-2 ATS. The two teams have covered just 1 time between them in a combined 6 games played.

Notre Dame did not play well for the first three quarters of the game versus Purdue, but it is difficult to enter the game on Purdue’s home field as an 18-point favorite. Last season in South Bend, the Irish escaped with a three point victory on a last minute field goal.

Michigan State has been described by some analysts as having a slow to develop offense and hence the more than 7½ point spread in Notre Dame’s favor.

The No. 5 ranked Stanford and No. 23 ranked Arizona State matchup has the Sun Devils getting 8½ points after opening at 9½ as the underdog. This will be the first major test for Stanford. The Sun Devils defeated a tough Wisconsin team 32-30 and come into the game 2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS, but did not cover as the favorite by 7 points against the Badgers. Some say Arizona State should have lost outright, but a crazy call at the end of the game gave them the outright win.

Stanford did not look good in their 34-20 victory over Army. The Cardinal went off as a 30½ point favorite and failed to cover, as they looked disinterested in the game.

This week has just a few marquee games that will draw much less bettor interest than last week.

However, it is an opportunity for bettors to go online to topbet, Bovada, sportsbook.com and betonline and check out all the options including betting the spread, the winner, the point total and even live betting during the game itself.

Alabama Spread might be too high Against Texas A&M

Even with the point spread being inflated, bettors continue to bet for Alabama in its showdown with Texas A&M on Saturday.

Alabama is 1-0 SU and ATS, while Texas A&M is 2-0 SU and 1-1 ATS. The Crimson Tide enters the game ranked No. 1 in the nation with Texas A&M ranked No. 6.

The Tide’s head coach Nick Saban has a next season revenge record of 7-1 SU as well as ATS. In those eight revenge matchups, the margin of victory has averaged nearly three touchdowns.

Saban is also 16-8 ATS when a favorite playing on the road since becoming the Alabama coach. He is also 119-85-2 all time ATS. Add to that Alabama’s extra week off and you can see why bettors are laying money on the Tide.

Odds makers seem to believe the line has become inflated. As late as Thursday night, many online books such as Bovada, topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com had Alabama as high as an 8-point favorite after the opening line of 7, while the line has peaked at 9.5.

This line was posted a day earlier, on Sunday, than usual, as it should be the biggest bet on game for this weekend.

At Bovada, they said the public is very hard on the Tide at the moment, but professional bettors have stayed away. As of Thursday morning, the pros were still no getting on the line, but odds makers said it could ease back up to 9.

Last season the Aggies, led by Johnny Manziel, upset the Tide in Tuscaloosa 29-24. The Aggies were 13.5-point road ‘dogs in the game. In that game, the Tide had just beaten LSU the previous week and was both emotionally and physically spent. However, now they have had two weeks of rest.

If, bettors are thinking of taking the points, consider that Alabama had only 206 yards versus Virginia Tech with only 96 on the ground.

The Tide has three new offensive linemen starting this season. Quarterback A.J. McCarron was sacked four times in the first game.

Texas A&M has three starters on defense returning from suspension, which is somewhat convenient most think.

The line is a tougher call than the OVER/UNDER. How can a point total be 60-plus when Alabama is playing?

I like the OVER, and if I had to take the line, I would take ‘Bama less the points.

Oklahoma State Allegations Are Not Shocking

Gundy
Gundy
WIll the allegations brought forth by Sports Illustrated cost Mike Gundy his job?

The new report by Sports Illustrated on the allegations of misconduct at Oklahoma State University isn’t receiving the type of reaction that I think the popular magazine was looking for. Oh it’s generating some buzz in many circles but are the alleagations of paying players, drug use, academic fraud and hostesess luring players really that surprising?

This report comes on the heels of the NCAA investigating Heisman Trophy Winner Johnny Manziel who may or may not have signed autographs for money. We know Manziel signed a large amount of autographs for specific brokers but he claims he accepted no payment. Once the NCAA sat down with Manziel and his cadre of lawyers, they must have realized they had no proof and decided to move on.

You know and I know the NCAA is a broken system. It’s broken in nearly every possible way from the top down. Based upon that fact and the recent Manziel situation, the Oklahoma State report has a very ‘ho-hum’ feel to it.

Now if this report were about Notre Dame or USC or Florida then maybe we’d be a bit more up in arms but this is Oklahoma State University we are talking about here. They aren’t even the most prominent football school in their own state so why should the nation pay much attention to this?

Miles
Will Miles come under fire at LSU for possible violations while he was at Oklahoma State?

I don’t think it’s the nation that has to be concerned. College football fans already know how susceptible to corruption the sport is. The people that need be concerned are those named in this report who are still at OSU or those who are still invloved with the sport but are now at different universities.

Take Les Miles for example. School officials in Baton Rouge right now have to be busy going over Miles’ handiwork since he’s been running their football program. Many of the allegations levied against the Cowboys happened on Miles’ watch so it doesn’t take a scientist to figure what worked at OSU would work even better at a traditional power like LSU.

By the way, think the folks in Ann Arbor aren’t taking a monstrous sigh of relief this week? Miles was nearly headed back to coach the very school he played and coached at before turning it down.

College football is the most lucrative college sport there is and it has that title far and away from college basketball. While some schools do identify their success with basketball, schools know that the real money is made by the success of the college football program.

Based upon last year’s numbers, the highest grossing athletic departments in America are dominated by traditional football schools. The top 13 schools, with Texas leading the way, are dominated by their football programs. Only the 14th school, Louisville, earned more in basketball than football.

What does this mean? It means that if schools are going to cheat and are going to cut corners and are going to offer things that just can’t be turned down by an 18-year old kid then they are going to do it in football.

I honestly don’t know what will come of this report on Oklahoma State but don’t be surprised if some other schools start to fall as well. If you think these types of things don’t go on in the SEC or the Big Ten or the Pac-12 then I suggest you open your eyes and get a gosh darn clue. Maybe things at other schools aren’t as rampant and ‘in-your-face’ as they claim to have been in Stillwater but there is no way the top programs in America are as crystal clean as you might think. That should not be shocking at all.

Notre Dame will not cover against Purdue

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish lost last weekend against Michigan. However, Head Coach Brian Kelly has been known to get his former teams to bounce back following a loss.

Kelly is a combined 18-11 ATS, following a loss while at Central Michigan, Cincinnati and Notre Dame. This weekend the Irish (1-1 SU and 1-1 ATS) take on the Purdue Boilermakers (1-1 SU and 0-2 ATS).

Over their first two games played, Purdue has scored only two touchdowns on offense.

The Line opened at sites like Bovada, with the Irish as a 19.5-point favorite and has moved to 20.5 points. Notre Dame has not been favored by this many points over the Boilermakers since 1996. At that time, they were favored by 21 and were victorious 35-0.

The Fighting Irish are 5-0 SU in the past five head-to-head matchups with Purdue, but last season, won 20-17, thanks to a field goal in the last seconds of the game.

Last week’s loss against Michigan snapped the Irish’s winning streak at five games versus teams from the Big Ten.

Tommy Rees, who has replaced the suspended Everett Golson at quarterback for the Irish this season, did not please his coach early in their loss to Michigan.

However, he played well late and gave the Irish a chance to win. Over his first two games, he has five touchdown passes and two picks.

The Irish were let down versus Michigan by their fine defense. In the first 38 games Kelly was the coach of Notre Dame, the defense did not allow 40 or more points in any games. However, they have now given up that amount in two of their past three games played.

Purdue is a work in progress and Darrel Hazell in his first season with the Boilermakers knows better than anyone else, what needs to be fixed.

The offense is ranked No. 116 in the nation after two games. Rob Henry the team’s quarterback does not have a touchdown pass yet this season, but has thrown two interceptions.

Purdue has no deep threat so defenses are able to meet receivers at the line and throw them off their pattern early. On the ground against Indiana State, Purdue averaged 2.7 yards a carry.

On defense, Purdue will be without last season’s best tackler safety Landon Feichter, who broke his leg.

Against the Irish defense, things should get worse before they get better.

Purdue is winless against the Fighting Irish since 2007. However, Purdue has covered three out of the past four years. The offense for Purdue is very poor, but it was much the same a season ago when they only lost by three.

Prediction: Take Purdue and the nearly 20 points.

Ohio State is a solid choice versus San Diego State

The Ohio State Buckeyes are ranked No. 3 in the nation and face the San Diego State Aztecs at home today.

San Diego State had a solid season last year winning nine games and making another appearance in a bowl game.

The Aztecs were supposed to win handily against Eastern Illinois last week in their opener but were shocked by the FCS team losing by three touchdowns. The Aztec loss was to a team that over the past three seasons had won a combined 11 games.

San Diego has now become a 28-point underdog on most sportsbooks including Bovada, topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com in today’s matchup against Ohio State. Those online sites offer bettors an array of different betting options from what team scores first, to the score at halftime to what play will be run next.

San Diego State is trying to focus their thoughts on one thing; one game does not define their entire season.

However, that could come true, if they were to defeat the Buckeyes. An Aztec win would end the hopes of the Buckeyes reaching the national championship game and give San Diego State their biggest upset of the season.

San Diego State, regardless of their hiccup last week, is a formidable opponent. The Aztecs put 35 points on the board per game last year. The up tempo offense ran 99 plays for the Aztecs last week, which was tied for the most in any game played.

The Aztecs threw 66 passes, which is far more than last season when they averaged just 24 per game, but much of that was due to an injury to their leading rusher Adam Muema and playing catch-up football. Muema had 1,500 yards last season and was expected back for the game today.

Ohio State took on the lowly Buffalo Bulls last week and won 40-20. The Buckeyes looked sluggish, disinterested and complacent after the first quarter. Ohio State jumped out to a 23-0 lead early in the game and just set the control to cruise, instead of putting the pedal to the medal.

The Buckeyes scored in three straight possessions to start the game with 117 yards through the air and 99 on ground in just over six minutes. After that, Buffalo outscored the Buckeyes 20-17 over the last three quarters of the game.

Urban Meyer the head coach of Ohio State was clear with his players this week that mental lapses and easing up is not acceptable.

This game should be dominated from start to finish by the offensive power of Ohio State, but look for San Diego State to perform better and have a stronger rushing attack than last week.

The current line has the Buckeyes favored by 28 points with the point total on 56. Smart money takes the Ohio State and the OVER.

Trying to Right My Ship With College Games This Saturday

Franklin
Franklin
James Franklin leads the Tigers against Toledo in Saturday action this week.

Season Record 1-4, Last Week 1-4

I think I know how Oregon State and Kansas State felt last week. After they both lost to good FCS teams, they were still nevertheless, losses to FCS teams. I really liked the slate of games I had last week and although I was very close on a couple of them, that doesn’t exactly win you points with the bookie.

Here are the five games I like this weekend in college football.

Toledo (+17) at Missouri – Tigers’ Head Coach Gary Pinkel welcomes his old team to Columbia this week and the Rockets have to come in with some confidence despite losing at Florida. Toledo lost in the Swamp just 24-6 and although the Gators had several players sitting out due to injuries and suspensions, the Rockets gave them a game.

Missouri meanwhile laid waste to Murray State 58-14 at home behind an offensive outburst. On the surface, this game seems tighter than expected but consider that Toledo was more than doubled in offensive yards by the Gators including by 212 yards on the ground. I like the Tigers to win by more than 17.

Navy (+13) at Indiana – Last season in Annapolis, these two played an epic game with the Midshipmen coming out on top 31-30 with a TD late in the fourth quarter. Navy was off last week but had plenty of film of the Hoosiers to study as they defeated Indiana State 73-35. What concerns me with Navy is that this is their first game and often with the triple option offense they run, you need a game or two to get the kinks out.

Make no mistake that the Middies will score on a less then stellar Hoosiers’ defense. The problem will be stopping the balanced attack of the Hoosiers. Last week the Hoosiers put up over 300 yards rushing and over 300 yards passing. I think Navy keeps this close early but I like Indiana to pull away. Take the Hoosiers.

Gardner
Gardner must take better care of the ball against the Irish than he did against the Chippewas.

Notre Dame (+4) at Michigan – The Irish return to Ann Arbor for another classic under the lights at the Big House. Last time they were here, they gave up a late score behind the heroics of Denard Robinson. Last season, Notre Dame forced the Wolverines into numerous turnovers and uncharacteristic mistakes in a defensive struggle in South Bend.

‘Shoelace’ Robinson is now in the NFL but Michigan now has a guy in Devin Gardner who is a dangerous dual-threat guy. He isn’t as fast as Robinson, but he’s a much better passer. Both the Wolverines and Irish were good in opening game wins last week against far lesser opponents and now tackle each other.

Tommy Rees isn’t Everett Golson, but he is a darn good passer who threw for over 300 yards last week. I give him the edge over Gardner who looked shaky at times against Central Michigan to whom he threw two interceptions. I expect another defensive battle but I like the Irish here getting four points.

Arizona (-10.5) at UNLV – If ever there were a misleading score last week it was UNLV’s 51-23 loss to Minnesota. The Rebels outgained the Gophers 419-320 but gave up a kickoff return for touchdown, a blocked field goal returned for touchdown and an interception returned for a touchdown. That was certainly bad news for the Rebels but it gets worse with Arizona coming into Las Vegas.

The Wildcats defeated Northern Arizona 35-0 behind solid defense and a back-up running back who rushed for over 100 yards and a touchdown. The Wildcats get the nation’s leading rusher from last year, Ka’Deem Carey back from a one game suspension and he will be primed to run through the Rebels.

I think UNLV puts up a fight but I expect the Wildcats to pull away. Take ‘Zona.

SEC Football Opens with Ole Miss visiting Vandy

The NCAA football season kicks off Thursday and a great matchup will see two up and coming teams from the Southeastern Conference meet in Nashville, Tennessee. The Vanderbilt Commodores will host the Old Miss Rebels, with Ole Miss listed as the favorite by 3 points and the over/under point total resting on 53.5.

Both teams for years were considered doormats in the conference but no longer are thought of as pushovers, as but teams are returning from their best seasons in recent memory.

Last season Vanderbilt had 9 wins to tie a school record and ended the season 9-4 with their best record since becoming a member of the SEC.

The Rebels last season, under first year Head Coach Hugh Freeze turned the program around. Ole Miss ended the season with a winning record of 7-6. Not the most impressive record, but in the two years combined prior to last season the Rebels won a total of 6 games.

Ole Miss used the spread offense last season under Freeze and has most of its starters from last season returning. Last season Ole Miss was 5th in the conference in offense averaging more than 423 yards a game.

Bo Wallace will start at quarterback returning from last season’s 3,000 yards passing and 22 touchdowns as well as 17 interceptions. Ole Miss enters as the favorite even though they are 1-13 in their past 14 conference road games.

Seven of the 11 starters on both sides of the ball return for Vanderbilt. However, their two most valuable players on offense Justin Rogers at quarterback and Zac Stacy at running back are gone. However, Jordan Matthews who caught 94 passes and eight touchdowns will be back to start at wide receiver.

Austyn Carta-Samuels a senior will start for Vandy at quarterback. He has experience in games played as he played most of 2009 and 2010 as the starter.

The Commodores have questions marks on the offensive side of the ball, but have played well on their home field and are usually strong early in the season. Ole Miss has a potent offense.

Take Ole Miss less the 3 points, the Rebels will wear the Commodores down little by little and win by a touchdown.

NCAA Football’s Top Five Quarterbacks

The college football season will start Thursday August 29. Many football experts will tell you that defense wins games and for the most part, they are right. However, without a good field general on offense your team will not score any points.

The quarterback is as celebrated and maligned at the collegiate level as he is at the professional level. A quarterback must learn the college system his coach runs and must learn to read defenses to get the best he can out of his running and passing game.

Since players only play a maximum of four seasons in college and some less as they choose to head to the NFL early, it is imperative coaches find talented replacements.

Those coaches who are successful in recruiting talented quarterbacks to fit into their system are the ones who win the national championships.

A good case in point is the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Tide has won three of the past four national championships and the last two straight with the same quarterback A.J. McCarron.

There are a myriad of talented quarterbacks at the collegiate level but here is list of the top 5. As the season progresses these players could move up or down, but starting the season they are the top 5. The list is short and there were others that might deserve to be listed by this is the list I have come up with.

  1. Johnny Manziel, the much maligned Heisman Trophy winner is still uncertain he will play this season, but until he is suspended, he is the best in the nation. He runs as good or better than any other quarterback does and he can thread the needle with his passes.
  2. Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville might be the best all around quarterback in the country. He is the best quarterback to put on a Louisville jersey since Johnny Unitas. He will be a contender for the Heisman at the end of the season and will be a high draft pick in the NFL Draft.
  3. Tajh Boyd from Clemson is the most athletic of the group and will be near the top if not at the top when the Heisman Trophy balloting takes place. He will definitely play at the next level and will help the Tigers battle for an ACC Championship
  4. A.J. McCarron from Alabama might surprise some readers, but when a quarterback helps lead a team to two consecutive national titles, how can he not be near the top of the list.
  5. Derrick Carr of Fresno State is David Carr’s younger brother. Carr had over 4,100 yards through the air last season and tossed 37 touchdown passes. He too will be a player at the next level.

Honorable mention: Braxton Miller, Ohio State; David Fales, San Jose State, Bryn Renner, North Carolina; Marcus Mariota, Oregon