Some are Still in, While Some are Certainly Out as College Football Rolls On

Winston
Winston
Head Coach Jimbo Fisher and his star QB once again escaped by beating the Irish.

I seem to recall a lot of people thinking out loud that the new college football playoff wouldn’t create the excitement that the Bowl Championship Series did. Regular season games wouldn’t mean as much and the usual suspects would continue to box-out the wannabes.

While the last part may end up holding true, the lack of excitement and less meaningful games couldn’t be further from the truth. Look no further than yesterday and last night for your examples.

In Tallahassee, Florida the defending national champions fought off the Fighting Irish with the help of a pass interference call to win 31-27. Despite another week of turmoil, Jameis Winston again saved the Seminoles despite his poor play at times. The Irish defensive line battered the Florida State offensive line in the first half but they made the proper adjustments and protected Winston better in the second half.

Kelly
Kelly's Irish were valiant in defeat but the pass interference call was legit and Kelly needs to admit it.

The Irish actually went ahead with :12 left but they were called for offensive pass interference on what was deemed a ‘pick-play.’ To be honest, it was the right call. The offensive player made no effort to even look as if he were going to be a receiver and instead blocked the defender allowing his teammate Corey Robinson to catch the game-winner. It really was the right call because it was so blatant.

Because Florida State is in the relatively week ACC and because Notre Dame is an independent, a loss by either was going to be tough to deal with in terms of the playoff. The Irish still have road trips to Navy, Arizona State and USC and should they win those plus their two remaining home games, they could still get in.

The Seminoles have a much easier path to stay unbeaten but do have road trips to Louisville and Miami. Right now I can only say this about both teams; Still in.

In Norman, Oklahoma yesterday the Sooners hosted conference rival Kansas State. Both teams had one loss and another loss for either would eliminate any chance for them to make the college football playoff. K-State’s loss this year was to Auburn and the Wildcats missed three field goals that would have given them the win.

How ironic was it that Oklahoma’s Mr. Automatic Michael Hunnicut missed a literal chip-shot that would have given the Sooners the lead? K-State ran the remaining three plus minutes off the clock to preserve the 31-30 win. Wildcats still in. Sooners out.

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the Crimson Tide hosted Texas A&M. The Aggies already had two losses but if they could run the table in the powerful SEC, a playoff shot would not have been impossible. Bama was still feeling the effects of their loss at Ole Miss and they played angry in demolishing the Aggies 59-0. Crimson Tide still in. Aggies out.

In Fort Worth, Texas yesterday the TCU Horned Frogs entertained the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Both teams had just one loss each and if things could break just right could find themselves in the college football playoff. The winner would still be alive while the loser would have other things to think about.

After TCU’s 42-9 drubbing of the Cowboys, it might be OSU who is doing the thinking and smarting. The Frogs have date with Kansas State in two weeks and both teams should enter with their one loss each. Horned Frogs still in. Cowboys out.

Also staying alive with one-loss was Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon, Nebraska and Georgia.

Stay tuned for more craziness next week.

This Week’s Unmissable College Hoops

Having suffered a first conference loss on Saturday, Miami faces a tough trip to Duke this coming weekend.

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.

  • #1 Indiana @ Minnesota (Tue)
  • #19 Memphis @ Xavier (Tue)
  • Wichita State @ Creighton (Sat)
  • #6 Kansas @ West Virginia (Sat)
  • #13 Kansas State @ Baylor (Sat)
  • #19 Memphis @ UCF (Sat)

Spartans Visit Buckeyes in Big Ten Showdown

Keith Appling and the Michigan State Spartans will look to rebound from a midweek loss to Indiana with a trip to Ohio State on Sunday afternoon.

#4 Michigan State travels to Columbus on Sunday to take on #18 Ohio State in a must win game for both schools. Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 PM ET from Value City Arena.

Michigan State’s 72-68 loss at home to #1 Indiana on Tuesday leaves the Spartans one game back of the Hoosiers at the top of the Big Ten standings. With a season sweep of the East Lansing side, Indiana holds a decisive tie-breaker.

A win over Minnesota on Wednesday put an end to a streak of three losses in four games for Ohio State, but that downturn now has the Buckeyes looking up at four other Big Ten schools. In danger of being swallowed into the mid-level tournament berths, Ohio State needs to put together some wins to improve its standing.

The two schools met on Jan. 19 at Breslin Center in East Lansing, with the Spartans scoring a 59-56 win.

Last season, the two sides split a pair of regular season games, each winning on the other’s home court. Michigan State earned the last laugh though, defeating Ohio State 68-64 in the Big Ten championship game.

Since 1979-80, Michigan State leads the head-to-head series 37-26.

Ohio State (14-2 home) enters the game favored over Michigan State (6-3 road). The Buckeyes however have fared poorly against teams ranked in the AP top 25, going 1-7 in such games. The school’s only win against a ranked opponent came on Jan. 13, against the Spartans’ bitter rival, Michigan. Michigan State has gone 4-4 against ranked opponents this season.

The spread opened at 4½ points. Neither school has been particularly good at covering the spread this season, which will make things that much more awkward for bettors trying to separate these sides.

Ohio State is 13-11-0 ATS all told this season, with a 9-6-0 ATS record at Value City Arena and a 11-9-0 ATS record when entering  the game as the favorite.

Michigan State is 11-12-1 ATS in all games this season, with a 5-5-1 ATS record on the road and a 4-2-0 ATS record as the underdog.

The total opened at 129. Like the spread, bettors will have a tough time picking over or under in this one. Ohio State (10-12-1) favors the under while Michigan State (12-11-0) favors the over. Neither is particularly decisive though.

After Sunday’s game at Ohio State, Michigan State will have three games left on the schedule: a trip to Michigan (Mar. 3) followed by home games against Wisconsin (Mar. 7) and Northwestern (Mar. 10).

Meanwhile, Indiana still has four games on the schedule. The Hoosiers will face Minnesota (Feb. 26) and Michigan (Mar. 10) on the road, and Iowa (Mar. 2) and Ohio State (Mar. 5) at home.

It’ll be a tall task for the Spartans to overtake the Hoosiers to finish with the top berth heading into the Big Ten tournament, but it’s not yet impossible. One thing is for sure; the Spartans need to win in Columbus on Sunday afternoon.

 

In Brief…

The Spartans’ rivals, #7 Michigan (22-4, 9-4 Big Ten) will also look to improve its position in the Big Ten standings. The Wolverines will face a resurgent Illinois (20-8, 7-7 Big Ten) side that has won five straight games, ending a dreadful streak of six losses in seven games. The hometown Wolverines are favorites (-11) with the total at 138.

With #2 Miami (FL) suffering its first conference loss of the season on Saturday, #6 Duke (23-3, 10-3 ACC) can sneak one game closer to the Hurricanes at the top of the ACC standings with a win over lowly Boston College (12-14, 4-9 ACC) on Sunday afternoon. The Blue Devils bounced back from last weekend’s loss to Maryland with a 88-56 win over Virginia Tech on Thursday and will enter this one as the favorite (-16½).

With a win over #8 Syracuse on Saturday and #17 Marquette slipping up against Villanova, #11 Georgetown is now in sole possession of the Big East lead. At two games back, #25 Notre Dame (21-6, 9-5 Big East) will look to make up some ground as the Irish hosts Cincinnati (19-8, 7-7 Big East), losers of four of the last five. The Irish is a one-point favorite in this one, with the total at 124.

#20 Pittsburgh (20-7, 8-6 Big East) will also be looking to make up ground in the conference. With two losses in a row, the Panthers are in danger of losing their AP status, so a win over St. John’s (16-10, 8-6 Big East) is essential at lunchtime on Sunday. Pittsburgh is the favorite (-7) with the total at 124½.

 

Saturday’s AP Top 25 Results

#2 Miami (FL) 65, Wake Forest 80

San Diego 50, #3 Gonzaga 81

Arkansas 54, #5 Florida 71

#11 Georgetown 57, #8 Syracuse 46

TCU 48, #9 Kansas 74

Seton Hall 61, #10 Louisville 79

Washington State 56, #12 Arizona 73

#13 Kansas State 81, Texas 69

#14 Oklahoma State 73, West Virginia 57

#16 New Mexico 91, #22 Colorado State 82

#17 Marquette 56, Villanova 60

Southern Miss 73, #21 Memphis 89

Stanford 66, #23 Oregon 77

#24 Virginia Commonwealth 75, Xavier 71

 

Sunday’s AP Top 25 Schedule

#4 Michigan State @ #18 Ohio State

Boston [email protected] #6 Duke

Illinois @ #7 Michigan

#20 Pittsburgh @ St. John’s

Cincinnati @ #25 Notre Dame

This Week’s Best: College Hoops Preview

Indiana travels to Michigan State on Tuesday, a battle that will decide who is tops in the Big Ten.

It’s become tradition this season for at least one of the high-placed title contenders to unexpectedly lose over the weekend. Duke was this week’s victim, so to speak. With Maryland taking an 83-81 victory, the Blue Devils will now look to bounce back, taking on Virginia Tech on Thursday.

Whilst there’s no doubting that came in Blacksburg will be a big game, it hasn’t made the Casino Review list of the top 10 games on this week’s college basketball schedule. Surprising? Not when you take a look at what lies ahead.

We’re at the point where every game becomes important, but some are that little bit more important than others. Here’s our pick of the unmissable action coming your way over the next seven days.

As publication time falls ahead of this week’s AP poll being released, the AP rankings quoted are those unveiled last Monday (Feb. 11).Expect a fair amount of change in wake of this past week’s results.

 

#21 Notre Dame @ #16 Pittsburgh (Mon)

Pittsburgh (20-6, 8-5 Big East) and Notre Dame (20-6, 8-5 Big East) both suffered tough losses this past weekend but both remain just two games in the loss column behind the Big East leading pack of Georgetown, Marquette and Syracuse. The side that comes out of this one with a win still has a shot at winning the Big East regular season. The loser will have to play very well in the Big East tournament if it’s to head to the NCAA tourney.

Virginia Commonwealth @ Saint Louis (Mon)

#11 Butler has been the talk of the Atlantic 10 this season but the Bulldogs currently trail both Virginia Commonwealth (21-5, 9-2 A10) and Saint Louis (19-5, 8-2 A10) in the conference standings. Those two sides play Monday night to decide who is really top of the pops in the A10, at least for the time being. Both sides will be playing Butler over the next fortnight (see below).

#1 Indiana @ #8 Michigan State (Tue)

It was something of a surprise that Indiana (23-3, 11-2 Big Ten) held on to the #1 spot in the AP poll last week. This week there’s no surprise about it. The Hoosiers downed Nebraska and Purdue to keep atop of the Big Ten standings. The Bloomington side isn’t alone though.

Michigan State (22-4, 11-2 Big Ten) took a share of the conference lead with wins over Michigan and Nebraska. Now the Spartans have a shot at upsetting the top team in the country. The Hoosiers scored a 75-70 win when the two sides met in Indiana, but the Spartans are unbeaten at home this season. This is looking like the Game of the Week already.

#14 Kansas @ #17 Oklahoma State (Wed)

Indiana and Michigan State might have to hold off on that Game of the Week honor though as there are some big rumblings coming from the Big 12.

Kansas (21-4, 9-3 Big 12) got back to winning ways this past week, defeating both Kansas State and Texas in Lawrence, but this revival could be short-lived. Oklahoma State (19-5, 9-3 Big 12) defeated Kansas 85-80 on Feb. 2, sending the Jayhawks spiraling to a first of three losses.

Winners of seven straight and with just one home loss this season, the Cowboys will be looking to take down Kansas again on Wednesday night. Doing so would give Oklahoma State the top spot in the Big 12, not to mention some serious kudos with the AP voters.

California @ #23 Oregon (Thu)

After wowing fans and AP voters alike at the start of the Pac-12 campaign, Oregon (21-5, 10-3 Pac-12) now finds itself having to prove itself. The Ducks have won three straight since a three-game losing streak put an end to their unbeaten conference record, but a 79-77 overtime win over last-place Washington State on Saturday was hardly convincing.

California (16-9, 8-5 Pac-12) finds itself just two games back of the Ducks. Three straight wins and five from six have seen the Golden Bears claw their way up the Pac-12 standings. That stint has included quality wins over UCLA, Arizona and Oregon. A win for California on Thursday would not only complete the season sweep but also set the cat amongst the pigeons as far as the conference standings go.

Saint Louis @ #11 Butler (Fri)

Saint Louis, along with Virginia Commonwealth, has the power to wreck the rest of the season for Butler (21-5, 8-3 A 10). The Bulldogs will need to fend off the Billikens on Friday night, before visiting the Rams on Mar. 2. Butler lost to Saint Louis on Jan. 31, so nothing short of a win will be acceptable in this one.

#19 New Mexico @ #24 Colorado State (Sat)

The top two teams in the Mountain West take to the hardwood on Saturday in what might be the conference’s best game of the season. New Mexico (22-4, 9-2 MWC) defeated Colorado State (21-4, 8-2 MWC) in Albuquerque on Jan. 23 and doing likewise this weekend will give the Lobos are decisive advantage going forward.

A Lobos win won’t come easy though. Since losing to in the desert, the Rams have gone unbeaten. The side knocked-off San Diego State and Air Force this past week, wins that have turned a four horse conference race into a two horse affair.

North Carolina State @ North Carolina (Sat)

Make no bones about it, both North Carolina State (18-7, 7-5 ACC) and North Carolina (17-8, 8-5 ACC) have been disappointing this season. The two sides should have been contending for high AP rankings at least. Instead, they both sit in the middle of the ACC pack.

Both will need to take a win from this rivalry game, or face slipping further down the list in the minds of the NCAA tournament selectors. The sides shouldn’t need any motivation to get up for this game, but there it is right there. The Wolfpack will be buoyed by a 91-83 win back on Jan. 26, while the Tar Heels will use it to fuel a revenge win.

#15 Georgetown @ #6 Syracuse (Sat)

With a win over Cincinnati on Friday, Georgetown (19-4, 9-3 Big East) reached the summit of the Big East. Syracuse (21-4, 9-3 Big East) took a share of top spot on Saturday with a win over Seton Hall. This Saturday’s game will have huge implications at the top of the Big East. Of course, with the sides facing DePaul and Providence respectively during the week, they’ll need to be on upset alert beforehand.

#8 Michigan State @ #13 Ohio State (Sun)

After Tuesday’s home game against Indiana, Michigan State will face a tough trip to Columbus. If the Spartans arrive with a win over the Hoosiers, this one will be about maintaining momentum. If Tom Izzo’s side comes up short though, it’ll need to take home a victory here to stay ahead of Wisconsin, Michigan and the Buckeyes.

Nothing comes easy in the ultra-competitive Big Ten this season, but Ohio State (18-7, 8-5 Big Ten) has had a nightmare schedule of late. Losses to Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin in a four game span has seen the Buckeyes slip down the standings, which makes Michigan State’s visit so very important. Ahead of this game, the Buckeyes host Minnesota on Wednesday.

Saturday Betting Tips: College Hoops

Having squeaked by Ohio State midweek, Tim Hardaway Jr. and the Michigan Wolverines will look to fend off a tough Wisconsin side on Saturday.

With just five Saturday’s left on the college basketball regular season, every single game is taking on a bigger importance. Don’t believe us? Just ask any of those ranked teams that came unglued this past week.

With the top spot in the AP poll up for grabs, the likes of Michigan, Duke, and Miami (FL) will be gunning to make an upwards move, and impress the selection committee along the way. What they’ll be looking to avoid is ending up on the wrong end of the score line, a la Indiana, Florida, and Kansas.

Here at Casino Review we’ve filtered through Saturday’s gargantuan college hoops schedule to bring you some betting tips in games that really matter.

 

#3 Michigan @ Wisconsin

12:00 PM ET

Kicking-off Saturday’s lunchtime slot in style, #2 Michigan (21-2, 8-2 Big Ten) will travel to Wisconsin (16-7, 7-3 Big Ten) in one of this weekend’s Big Ten crunch games.

The Wolverines scored a nail-biting victory over Ohio State in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, taking the game 76-74 in overtime. Some have suggested that the Buckeyes – having already beaten the Wolverines once this season – may be better than Michigan. John Beilein’s side will look to prove the doubters wrong.

Wisconsin has proven to be a tough out in the Big Ten this season. With wins over Illinois, Minnesota, and Indiana – all ranked at the time – the Badgers have played hard and appear to be on the cusp of infiltrating the AP poll themselves.

The Badgers will look to command a slow pace, and limit the scoring of the fifth best shooting team in the league. Michigan has shot .503 from the field, and .412 from behind the arc (6th). Stopping this efficient offense will be the only way Wisconsin can win.

This Season: This is the only regular meeting between the two schools this year.

Last Season: Michigan downed the Badgers 59-41 at the Crisler Center in the only meeting between the sides last season.

Favorite: Michigan Spread: 1 Total: 122

Take: MICHIGAN – No doubt there’s a serious upset opportunity here, but Wisconsin has yet to prove itself capable of beating one of the Big Ten’s top sides in Madison. The closest the side got was a two-point loss to Michigan State. This will be a close one, but with the spread at one, take the Wolverines (13-8-1 ATS) to cover also. Take the total to go under, as is the trend with the very deliberate game plan Wisconsin brings to the table.

 

North Carolina @ #8 Miami (FL)

2:00 PM ET

Are the Hurricanes for real? Will the Tar Heels turn this season around? Those are just two of the questions that we’d like answers to, and preferably sooner rather than later.

#8 Miami (18-3, 9-0 ACC) will put its undefeated ACC record on the line as North Carolina (16-6, 6-3 ACC) comes to town. The Tar Heels looked to have turned things around until falling to North Carolina State two weeks ago. With three wins since, it’ll take a win in Miami to prove to anybody that this season can be turned around for good.

Ranking in the top 10 in points, rebounds, and assists this season, North Carolina will need to improve its defense if it’s to get past Miami, a team that is very good on the defensive end.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes simply need to play their own game and shoot the ball well to get a win out of this one.

This Season: Miami defeated UNC 68-59 in Chapel Hill on Jan. 10, the third win on the side’s current 10-game winning streak.

Last Season: The Tar Heels handed a pair of losses to Miami last season, winning 73-56 at home and 73-64 in Miami.

Favorite: Miami (FL) Spread: Total: 136½

Take: MIAMI – Two weeks ago we had UNC to defeat NC State. The Tar Heels let us down that week, and now we’re hesitant to back them in any big game. Still, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Roy Williams’ side hand the Hurricanes a first ACC loss. Still, take the Hurricanes to hold on to this undefeated streak and, with a 13-4-1 ATS record, cover the spread as well, something North Carolina hasn’t done well on the road (4-4 ATS) or as the underdog (1-3 ATS). Take the total to fo under, a it has in 12 Miami games this season.

 

#11 Louisville @ #25 Notre Dame

After ‘celebrating’ a top-ranking in the AP polls with three straight losses, #11 Louisville (19-4, 7-3 Big East) has secured three straight wins, and will look to add a fourth on Saturday night.

#25 Notre Dame (18-5, 6-4 Big East) has yo-yo’d in and out of the rankings thanks to an inconsistent season. The Fighting Irish are one of the best shooting teams in the country – shooting .487 from the field (11th) and .391 (19th) from three-point range – yet poor shooting defense has seen the side struggle. Never was this more evident than in Monday’s 63-47 loss in Syracuse. With five of the last eight games against teams currently ranked in the AP top 25, Notre Dame needs to find a way to win here.

The Irish are 13-2 at home, with only Connecticut and Georgetown scoring wins at Purcell Pavilion. Meanwhile, Louisville is 5-2 in true road games. Two of those losses came in the three-game skid following the top ranking. The Cardinals handled Rutgers on Wednesday night, handing the Scarlet Knights a 63-47 beating.

This Season: This is the first of two meetings between the schools this season. They will meet again on Mar. 9, in the final game of the season.

Last Season: Notre Dame scored a 67-65 double-overtime win over the Cardinals in last season’s regular season fixture (at Louisville), before the Cardinals gained a measure of revenge in the Big East tournament, defeating the Irish 64-50 in the semifinals.

Favorite: Louisville Spread: Total: 131

Take: LOUISVILLE – Another game with upset potential, but expect Louisville to come out of this one unscathed. The Cardinals (12-9-1 ATS as the favorite) should cover the spread also. Take the total to go under.

Come back to Casino Review tomorrow for a full preview of #1 Indiana’s crunch Big Ten showdown with #10 Ohio State.

 

This Weekend’s AP Top 25 Schedule

Saturday

Mississippi State @ #2 Florida

#3 Michigan @ Wisconsin

#5 Kansas @ Oklahoma

Loyola Marymount @ #6 Gonzaga

North Carolina @ #8 Miami (FL)

#11 Louisville @ #25 Notre Dame

#12 Michigan State @ Purdue

Iowa State @ #13 Kansas State

#14 Butler @ George Washington

#15 New Mexico @ UNLV

Illinois State @ #16 Creighton

#23 Pittsburgh @ #17 Cincinnati

Utah @ #19 Oregon

#20 Georgetown @ Rutgers

Ole Miss @ #21 Missouri

#22 Oklahoma State @ Texas

DePaul @ #24 Marquette

Sunday

#1 Indiana @ #10 Ohio State

#4 Duke @ Boston College

California @ #7 Arizona

St. John’s @ #9 Syracuse

Illinois @ #18 Minnesota

Week 7 College Football Tips

South Carolina's trip to LSU could have serious implications in the SEC.

While it may be sharing the spotlight with baseball’s postseason this weekend, college football has a slate of games that offer bettors intrigue and excitement alike. Here’s a look at the rankings-busters that will be taking over you Saturday afternoon and evening.

 

#3 South Carolina @ #9 LSU

South Carolina (6-0, 4-0 SEC) had a massive win last week over Georgia – a win that sent the Bulldogs spiraling down the AP rankings. The Gamecocks will look to build on the victory with a visit to LSU (5-1, 1-1 SEC).

The Tigers have been out of form recently, a fact punctuated by last week’s loss to Florida. If LSU is to have any hope of remaining in the hunt for a spot in the National Championship game, a win is a must on Saturday (8 PM ET).

Odds: The Tigers are favorites (-3) at home, although the spread has shrunk since opening. The over/under is 42½.

Take: South Carolina – The Gamecocks have looked solid in winning four conference games, while the Tigers are out of sorts. Death Valley is no easy place to play, but LSU’s offense is not exactly scary. This will be a close one regardless, but South Carolina will edge it.

 

#17 Stanford @ #7 Notre Dame

Off to its best record since 2002, Notre Dame (5-0) has surprised a lot of people this year. Unranked heading into the season, the Fighting Irish has done nothing but climb the AP rankings.

Stanford (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) meanwhile has had an eclectic season, struggling against ‘inferior foes’ for the most part yet somehow beating USC.

A win for Notre Dame will really cement the school’s lofty ambitions this season, while Stanford can ill afford a performance like that in Washington – the Cardinal’s only other road game this year.

Odds: Notre Dame enters the game as one touchdown favorites. The over/under is 49.

Take: Notre Dame – Nobody is willing to admit it yet but this Notre Dame side is a true contender. With one of the best defenses in football, the Irish has pretty much shut down every team it’s played so far. Add to this a Stanford side that has had its ups and downs, and looked weak on the road in Washington, and you have the recipe for a Notre Dame victory. Take the under; this defense is built for restricting points.

 

#15 Texas @ #13 Oklahoma

The Red River Rivalry showdown of 2012 may not have the stakes of previous encounters, but it’s an important matchup nonetheless. A loss could effectively eliminate each team from BCS contention.

Texas (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) has had a forgettable few years and is looking for 2012 to be a lot better. Last week’s high-scoring loss to West Virginia put a dent in the tail, but one dent isn’t insurmountable. Two might be.

Oklahoma (3-1, 1-1 Big 12) has yet to really prove they deserve to be in the discussion for championships, having beaten three ‘ordinary’ opponents and lost to Kansas State. A win at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday could prove to be the catalyst to bigger and better things.

Odds: Oklahoma is favored (-3) to win a close one. The over/under is 63.

Take: Texas – It’s going to be close, that’s for sure, and it’s highly unlikely the total will go over. But the Longhorns have that little more to prove, and behind David Ash they have the potential to do it.

 

#22 Texas A&M @ #23 Louisiana Tech

When Hurricane Isaac wiped this fixture off of Week 1’s schedule, few people battered an eyelid. Sure it was A&M’s first game since joining the SEC but it was against lowly WAC competition.

Six weeks down the line, this looks like a doozy. Texas A&M (4-1, 2-1 SEC) has had a fairly strong start to the season, while Louisiana Tech (5-0, 0-0 WAC) has been tearing up the field, scoring 50-plus in four of five games. That one sub-50 game saw the Bulldogs score 44.

With a 12-game winning streak, Louisiana Tech now has the longest current unbeaten streak in the BCS.

Odds: The Aggies will be favorites (-7½) heading into this one, with the over/under at 73.

Take: Louisiana Tech – The Bulldogs have relished in the role of (pardon the pun) underdogs this year, humiliating Illinois in Champaign and edging out Virginia on the east coast also. This team has win written all over it, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see them emulate (and better) the success Houston has last season. This should be a shootout as well.

 

AP Top 25 (Week 7 Fixtures)

#18 Louisville @ Pittsburgh

#6 Kansas State @ Iowa State

#15 Texas @ #13 Oklahoma

Syracuse @ #20 Rutgers

#1 Alabama @ Missouri

#5 West Virginia @ Texas Tech

#17 Stanford @ #7 Notre Dame

#10 Oregon State @ Brigham Young

Fresno State @ #24 Boise State

Illinois @ #25 Michigan

Boston College @ #12 Florida State

#4 Florida @ Vanderbilt

#11 USC @ Washington

Fordham @ #21 Cincinnati

#3 South Carolina @ #9 LSU

#8 Ohio State @ Indiana

Tennessee @ #19 Mississippi State

#22 Texas A&M @ #23 Louisiana Tech

#2 Oregon (Bye)

#14 Georgia (Bye)

#16 Clemson (Bye)

Ranked Games Highlight College Football Week 4

Mante Te'o and the Notre Dame defense will look to take down the Michigan Wolverines.

Stanford’s win over Southern California in Week 3 made sure that the AP Polls had a very different look about them when they were released on Sunday. USC dropped from #2 to #13 in one fell swoop. This came on the back of those unlikely exits (Arkansas, Wisconsin, Nebraska) a week earlier.

This weekend’s ranked games offer some teams the opportunity to promote their stock further while others may well be looking up at the Top 25 come Sunday afternoon. Here’s a look at the four ranked games on tap this Saturday.

 

#18 Michigan @ #11 Notre Dame

(7:30 PM ET) This is the closest contest to pick from this week’s ranked games, at least according to the bookmakers. #11 Notre Dame (3-0, 1-0 home) enters the game as 5-point favorites. The Fighting Irish have impressed defensively, particularly in limiting Michigan State to 3 points last weekend.

#18 Michigan (2-1, 0-1 road) had a rough outing against Alabama in Week 1 but has continued to improve the past two weeks. The Wolverines were favorites to take the Big Ten but another loss this weekend could prove costly ahead of conference play.

The recent rivalry between these two makes it even tougher to pick a winner. It looks good for Michigan in that seven of the last eight games, the underdog has gone on to victory. Michigan has won the last three games by a combined 12 points, and taken six of the last seven. But that Irish defense looks like it’ll be tough to get by, especially at South Bend.

 

#15 Kansas State @ #6 Oklahoma

(7:50 PM ET) #6 Oklahoma (2-0, 1-0 home) has had an extra week to prepare for this Big 12 opener following last week’s bye. Wins over UTEP and Florida A&M have not really shown what the Sooners have inside the engine this year, but Saturday’s game will be a good first look proper.

#15 Kansas State (3-0, 0-0 road) has made fairly easy work of Missouri State, Miami (FL) and North Texas but last year’s mauling at the hands of the Sooners will be fresh in the mind. As will the fact that Oklahoma has taken five straight in the series.

Oddsmakers have opened their books accordingly, offering Oklahoma as 14½-point favorites. Kansas State will need to limit the offensive output of Landry Jones if they’re to get anywhere in this game, a tough ask if ever there was one.

 

#10 Clemson @ #4 Florida State

(8:00 PM ET) It’s time for #4 Florida State (3-0, 3-0 home) to face a challenge. The Seminoles have outscored their opposition (Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest) by a total of 176-3. Impressive, but that’s hardly sterling competition there, is it?

#10 Clemson (3-0, 0-0 road) beat Auburn in Week 1 before easing to victories over Ball State and Furman. That Auburn win is the one that has the Tigers at #10 in the polls.

Florida State starts 14½-point favorites in this one. Clemson has lost nine of the last 10 in Tallahassee, a statistic that haunts the team coming into this one. However, the Tigers bested Florida State last season on the back of 141-yards and two touchdowns from WR Sammy Watkins. If the Sophomore puts up those numbers this weekend, you can expect Clemson not only to beat the spread, but to beat Florida State outright.

 

#22 Arizona @ #3 Oregon

(10:30 PM ET) Like Florida State, the main criticism surrounding #3 Oregon (3-0, 3-0 home) has been that the Ducks have yet to play quality opposition. Many suspect when Chip Kelly’s team does come up against stiffer competition, it might start to slip down the rankings.

Meanwhile, #22 Arizona (3-0, 0-0 road) has been a surprise package under new coach Rich Rodriquez. A win this weekend would match the entire tally for last season. And with the offensive output the Wildcats can put up – 604 yards per game so far – a win is not completely out of the question.

However, oddsmakers have the Ducks as 21½-point favorites heading in. Oregon has a barnstorming offense of its own so the Wildcats will be in for a touch ride, that’s a big spread, and one that’s certainly beatable. Whether Oregon is beatable at Autzen Stadium is another thing.

 

AP Top 25 (Week 4 Fixtures)

#24 Boise State 7-6 BYU (Thursday)

Florida Atlatic @ #1 Alabama

#2 LSU @ Auburn

#22 Arizona @ #3 Oregon

#10 Clemson @ #4 Florida State

Vanderbilt @ #5 Georgia

#15 Kansas State @ #6 Oklahoma

Missouri @ #7 South Carolina

Maryland @ #8 West Virginia

#18 Michigan @ #11 Notre Dame

California @ #13 USC

Kentucky @ #14 Florida

UAB @ #16 Ohio State

Virginia @ #17 TCU

Oregon State @ #19 UCLA

#20 Louisville @ Florida International

Eastern Michigan @ #21 Michigan State

South Alabama @ #23 Mississippi State

Idaho State @ #25 Nebraska

#9 Stanford, #12 Texas both on a bye week

Trio of Ranked Games Spearhead Week 3

Silas Redd and the USC Trojans will look to defeat Stanford for the first time in four years.

Week 3’s full slate of action offers plenty for fans and bettors to get excited about, but it’s the three contests between ranked teams that stand out.

Up first, Florida heads to SEC rival Tennessee in what used to be, and could soon be again, one of college football’s best rivalries. USC then makes the trip north to Stanford for a grudge match in the Pac-12. To close things out, a primetime showdown between Notre Dame and Michigan State has everything set for an anybody-could-win affair.

Of course, everybody expected #1 Alabama’s trip to Arkansas to be a ranked matchup, but an historic fall from the rankings following the Razorbacks’ loss to Louisiana-Monroe put paid to that. With it looking increasingly unlikely that Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson will play, the competitiveness of that game has taken a nosedive as well.

Here then is a look at those three ranked matchups in full, starting in Knoxville, Tenn.

#18 Florida at #23 Tennessee

(6:00 PM ET) With a defeat of conference newcomer Texas A&M, #18 Florida (2-0, 1-0 road) got off to a winning start in conference play last Saturday, and went 2-0 on the young season. #23 Tennessee (2-0, 2-0 home) has beaten both North Carolina State and Georgia State in the early going, with QB Tyler Bray averaging 321.5 yards per game with a 78.3 percent pass completion rate.

Florida represents a tougher opponent than the Volunteers have yet to face. Still, oddsmakers like Tennessee’s chances (just) deeming the Knoxville team 3-point favorites. Three points is nothing at home, so it wouldn’t be a huge shock if Florida was to take the game, especially with a strong head-to-head record over recent years. The Gators have won eight straight against the Vols. The over/under is set at 48 points.

An argument can be made for either side but one this is all but certain: this is going to be a close one.

#2 USC at # 21 Stanford

(7:30 PM ET) Trojans’ QB Matt Barkley has never beaten Stanford, a monkey he’d like to get off his back before heading into the NFL Draft next year. #2 USC (2-0, 1-0 road) has put up big numbers against Hawaii and Syracuse but hasn’t quite looked like the beast most predicted heading into the season.

#21 Stanford (2-0, 2-0 home) began life post-Andrew Luck with a narrow victory over San Jose State before beating Duke with a less than spectacular offense. The Cardinal has never beaten USC four years running, so will be looking to make history Saturday night.

USC is favored by nine points heading into the game with the over/under set at 57 points. With Penn State transfer Silas Redd giving the Trojans a much needed backfield threat and keeping defenses honest against the run, USC will likely come out of Palo Alto with a third win, leaving Stanford’s Top 25 ranking in jeopardy.

#20 Notre Dame at #10 Michigan State

(8:00 PM ET) After signing an agreement with the ACC this week, Notre Dame focus will have to be back on the field in Saturday night’s primetime game. The Fighting Irish (2-0, 1-0 road) will visit a Spartan Stadium that hasn’t been kind to them of late. It’s been six years since Notre Dame won there.

#10 Michigan State (2-0, 1-0 home) will be looking to solidify its number one position in the Big Ten. To do so, the Spartans’ defense will need to continue the strong play that has seen it not give up a touchdown this season. On the offensive side of the ball, Le’Veon Bell will hope to gain more rushing yards than last year’s 27-yard effort against the Irish.

Michigan State is 6-point favorites, a number no doubt based on homefield advantage. The over/under is set at 44. Expect a relatively low-scoring game with both teams trying to assert dominance on the ground. The winner will most likely be the team who’s defense steps up.

 

AP Top 25 (Week 3 Fixtures)

#1 Alabama (2-0) @ Arkansas (1-1)

#2 USC (2-0) @ #21 Stanford (2-0)

Idaho (0-2) @ #3 LSU (2-0)

Tennessee Tech (2-0) @ #4 Oregon (2-0)

Wake Forest (2-0) @ #5 (tied) Florida State (2-0)

Florida Atlantic (1-1) @ #7 Georgia (2-0)

UAB (0-1) @ #8 South Carolina (2-0)

James Madison (2-0) @ #9 West Virginia (1-0)

#20 Notre Dame (2-0) @ #10 Michigan State (2-0)

Furman (0-2) @ #11 Clemson (2-0)

California (1-0) @ #12 Ohio State (2-0)

#13 Virginia Tech (2-0) @ Pittsburgh (0-2)

#14 Texas (2-0) @ Ole Miss (2-0)

North Texas (1-1) @ #15 Kansas State (2-0)

#16 TCU (1-0) @ Kansas (1-1)

Massachusetts (0-2) @ #17 Michigan (1-1)

#18 Florida (2-0) @ #23 Tennessee (2-0)

North Carolina (1-1) @ #19 Louisville (2-0)

Houston (0-2) @ #22 UCLA (2-0)

South Carolina State (1-1) @ #24 Arizona (2-0)

#25 Brigham Young (2-0) @ Utah (1-1)

* #5 (tied) Oklahoma (2-0) has a bye in Week 3