Nebraska Makes a Curious Choice Plus, Does the Playoff Committee Get it?

Riley
Riley
Mike Riley is off to Lincoln and Nebraska fans aren't overly thrilled about it.

Ironically, I wrote an article just a couple of days ago about the firing of a coach who had a winning percentage of .713 yet was fired for not winning the big games. That coach was Bo Pelini of Nebraska of course.

Knowing that Pelini commonly won nine games a season during his seven season in Lincoln, it only makes common sense that the University of Nebraska was looking to improve upon that. What that would mean is that the Cornhuskers would presumably be looking for a coach with a track record of winning above just about all else.

It would also help if the new coach were not a hot-head whose comments and on-field behavior wasn’t completely out of control but in Nebraska, winning matters first right?

Apparently the phrase “not so fast my friend” is quite applicable here. Nebraska announced yesterday that Oregon State Head Coach Mike Riley would be taking over the Huskers program for the 2015 season. Riley comes to Lincoln with an overall record of 93-79 which is a winning percentage of .541.

Let’s see here; .713 vs .541…. OK, there’s more to winning then right?

From 2006-2008, Riley’s Beavers finished with records of 10-4, 9-4 and 9-4. That’s very respectable for a Pac-12 team not named USC or Oregon. Riley’s last four seasons however have looked like this; 2014 5-7, 2013 7-6, 2012 9-4, 2011 3-9. If you’re keeping score at home, Mike Riley is under .500 over his last four seasons.

As you might imagine, this hire has not been well-received by the Big Red faithful. The most common theme among those commenting on message boards and in articles is “Why fire a guy who wins nine games a season and replace him with one who wins about six games a season?”

It’s an incredibly difficult question to answer because it’s legitimate. However, if you go back to that “other” reason for the change, this is where Riley excels. At 61, Riley is not a screamer and doesn’t blow his top at the drop of a yellow flag or fumbled football. He will bring a stable presence to the football team and no one questions that he’s a solid coach.

The problem is going to lie in recruiting and in winning over the faithful. Bring top athletes was never as easy as Tom Osborne once made it seem and it has only gotten more difficult with the decline of the program in the last 15 years.

Can Riley win at Nebraska? Yes, he certainly can but can he win championships? I’m much less confident about that and so is most of the state of Nebraska today.

Long
Jeff Long has done a nice job with the committee but he's missing a crucial element.

The Playoff Committee’ Big Gaffe

The College Football Playoff Committee has done a very good job to this point in selecting teams each week for it’s top four. There’s been a few curious predictions, chief among them placing TCU ahead of Baylor. Overall though, they’ve done a good job.

Unfortunately they’ve now backed themselves into a corner by ignoring the one, most important thing we all wanted from this playoff during the horrible years of the BCS. Head-to-head play should be the first and most important tie-breaker among two teams who have the same record.

This could all be a moot point if either Baylor or TCU lose this weekend but if both finish 11-1, the Bears need to be elevated higher than TCU simply because they won the head-to-head match-up. If things break perfectly for the committee, they’ll get losses by Ohio State and Florida State then they can just add Baylor and be done with it.

For their sake I hope it works. We wanted things settled on the field, not in a conference room and that’s been accomplished. Now they need to just recognize it.

Key Games Involving Teams Looking for a Playoff Berth

Johnson
Johnson
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.

Prescott
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.

A Thursday Night Trio of Pro and College Football Action

Ryan
Ryan
I would have that look on my face too if I were Jets' Head Coach Rex Ryan.

NY Jets (+10) at New England (O/U 45) – This just looks too easy doesn’t it? The Patriots have had their way with the Bills and the Bengals in the last two weeks after struggling to beat Oakland at home. The Jets are a mess. Although I thought they played hard against Denver, too many mistakes and a horrendous secondary eventually cost them.

The reason why you can’t just lay your money on the Pats to cover is simple; we’ve seen this type of thing with these two teams before. Six weeks prior to the 2010 playoffs the Pats beat the Jets 45-3. They met in the divisional round in Foxboro where the Jets pulled the upset 28-21.

It may be one example but it proves simply that when we think the Jets are dead in the water, that isn’t always the case.

Obviously they need better play from Geno Smith or Michael Vick regardless of which one is behind center. They don’t have to be brilliant but they have to take care of the football. The Pats need to deal with season-ending injuries to Stevan Ridley and Jerod Mayo.

Trends: The total has gone OVER in eight of the Jets’ last nine trips to New England… The Pats are 5-1 straight up in their last six games at home against the Jets… The Jets are 0-4-1 against the spread in their last five games… New England is 6-13 ATS in their last 19 games at home against the NYJ.

Boyd
Pitt's Tyler Boyd has suffered from some inconsistent QB play this season.

Virginia Tech (+1) at Pittsburgh (O/U 45) – These two have split their 10 meetings dating back to 1996 with each winning five games. The Hokies looked like a surprise team when they knocked off Ohio State in Columbus but back-to-back losses against East Carolina and Georgia Tech derailed those thoughts.

The Panthers have lost three straight including one at home to Akron. Pitt has been a hard team to figure out this season and I expect them to have their hands full tonight.

The Pick: I’ll take the Hokies and the OVER tonight.

Trends: The Hokies are 1-4 straight up in their last five games at Pitt… The Panthers are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home… The total has gone OVER in four of Va Tech’s last six games on the road… Pitt is 1-4 ATS in their last five home games.

Utah (-3) at Oregon State (O/U 53) – The Utes are a really bad one-point loss to Washington State from being unbeaten right now and their schedule has been a little tougher than has the Beavers. OSU is also 4-1 with a blowout loss to USC and wins over pretty weak competition.

The Utes have actually played better on the road than at home and that could come in handy tonight.

Trends: The Utes have gone 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against Oregon State… The Beavers are 11-5 straight up in their last 16 games at home… The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Utah’s last 14 games… The total has gone UNDER in four of Oregon State’s last five games at home.

The Pick: I like Utah to cover and I love the UNDER.

Odds to Win the Pac-12 North Division Title

Mariota
Mariota
I expect Marcus Mariota to lead the Ducks to the Pac-12 North title.

It’s time to head West and pick the winner of the Pac-12 North Division so let’s go!

Cal 50/1 – Things didn’t go real well for Sonny Dykes in his first year in Berkeley as the Bears went 1-11. Their lone victory came against Portland State and only one of their 11 losses was by less then 10 points. In other words, there’s a lot of work to do. Cal returns nine starters on offense and six on defense so there is hope. The schedule won’t do them any favors with road trips to Northwestern, Oregon State and USC but they do get Stanford and UCLA at home and Oregon in the 49ers new stadium. Three wins would be significant for Cal.

Oregon 1/2 – The Ducks will get challenged right out of the gate when defending Big Ten Champ Michigan State comes to town in week two. The offense returns eight starters including QB Marcus Mariota but the defense does have some work to do but has plenty in the cupboard. I see only two difficult road trips for the Ducks and those would be at UCLA and at Oregon State in the finale. They’ll be looking for revenge when Arizona comes to town and they also get Washington and Stanford in Autzen Stadium as well. If they get past Michigan State, look out.

Mannion
Don't be surprised if Mannion leads the Beavers to a great season in the Pac-12 North.

Oregon State 14/1 – The Beavers have a whopping 53 lettermen returning in 2014 headed by one of the top QB prospects in the land in Sean Mannion who NFL scouts love. The travel plans for OSU are daunting with trips to Washington, USC and Stanford but every other game on the schedule with the exception of Oregon perhaps is winnable. Don’t be shocked to see this team record nine wins.

Stanford 13/4 – The defending Pac-12 Champions return from a tough Rose Bowl loss to Michigan State. Head Coach David Shaw has a terrific 34-7 record but it will be put to the test in 2014 especially on the road. The Cardinal play an usual six games on the road and all are going to be challenging. Besides Washington, the Cardinal also go to Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA. With only five starters back on offense I have concerns about the Cardinal.

Washington 6/1 – Chris Peterson brings his 92-12 record to Seattle from an amazing run at Boise State. The question will be whether or not he can transfer that success from the Broncos to a more high-profile situation. The Huskies return seven starters on both sides of the ball which will help with the transition in coaching staffs. Washington should be 4-0 when they host Stanford in the fifth game of the season. The problem after that is the road where they play five times in their last eight games. Besides the Cardinal, they also get UCLA and Oregon State at home. An 8-5 season here would be a grand success.

 Washington State 12/1 – Year two of the Mike Leach regime produced a 6-6 season and a bowl game. Year three will need to produce even further. The road schedule will not be easy however with trips to Stanford, Oregon State and Arizona State. That said, they get Oregon, USC and rival Washington at home in the Apple Cup to finish the season.

The Pick: I believe this is Oregon’s division to lose. Stanford will challenge but I worry about the road schedule. The one team to look out for is Oregon State because of the quarterback and solid coaching.

Pac-12 North Win Totals for 2013

Mariota
Mariota
Mariota and the Ducks will be looking to take the Pac-12 title back from Stanford in 2013.

The Pac-12 once again enters the college football season with hopes of being the conference that finally puts an end to the reign of dominance of the SEC when it comes to national championships. Today I’m focusing on the Pac-12 North which should once again come down to a meeting between Stanford and Oregon in Palo Alto this fall.

California 4 (EVEN over/-130 under) – The Golden Bears have some rebuilding to do and they hope Sonny Dykes is the man to do it. Dykes comes in from Louisiana Tech to replace Jeff Tedford. While the wide-open offense will be exciting, it may need another season before any results come. Cal has all three non-conference games at home, but two of three are against Northwestern and Ohio State who are both contenders for the Big Ten title. They must also play at Oregon, at Stanford, at UCLA and at USC. Take the under and run.

Oregon 10.5 (-250 over/+170 under) – The Ducks rare loss at home last year was their only one and cost them a trip to the national championship game. Chip Kelly is in the NFL but there are lots of talented guys still on this roster. The Ducks have Nicholls State and rebuilding Tennessee at home and travel to Virginia in non-conference play which should be three wins. They get UCLA and Oregon State at home but have road games at Stanford and at Arizona. I like the over for the Ducks.

Riley
Could Riley's Beavers pull off a Pac-12 North title?

Oregon State 8.5 (-115 over/-115 under) – The Beavers were an impressive 9-4 last year and look to improve upon that mark. The non-conference should provide three wins with only at San Diego State being a possible road block. OSU gets Stanford, USC and Washington at home and must travel to rival Oregon for the finale. The Beavers could very well start off 7-0 before the slate gets tough. I’m taking the Beavers for the over this year.

Stanford 9.5 (-105 over/-115 under) – Not a bad first season for Head Coach David Shaw who captured a Pac-12 title and then a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. The Cardinal have some guys to replace, but they have a lot of talent back too especially at quarterback. The non-conference schedule features San Jose State and Notre Dame (in the season finale) at home and an away game at Army. The conference schedule has road games at USC and at Oregon State but they get Oregon, Washington and UCLA at home. I like the Cardinal to go over.

Washington 7.5 (-115 over/-115 under) – The Huskies were very up and down last year. They scored 312 points and gave up 314 to tell you just how goofy the season was. Keith Price returns for his senior season and looks to avoid another 7-6 year. He must learn to get rid of the ball quicker and not take so many sacks. The Huskies open the season hosting Boise State but then have two winnable games against Illinois and Idaho State. The conference schedule features road games at Stanford, Oregon State and UCLA. The Huskies do get Oregon and Arizona at home. Head Coach Steve Sarkisian has gone 7-6 the last three years and I see little reason that changes.

Washington State 4.5 (EVEN over/-130 under) – The Cougars and Head Coach Mike Leach look to improve on a 3-9 season a year ago but it won’t be easy. They open at Auburn where anticipation will be high with a new head coach in place. Then they travel to USC in week two. They also have road games at Oregon, Arizona and rival Washington. This was an interesting hire from the get-go with Leach and I don’t think it works. Go with the under.

Rivalry Week in College Football: Saturday Games

#4 Florida visiting #10 Florida State is just one of the huge rivalry games on Saturday that will have a big impact on the BCS standings.

Following on from Thursday’s look at Friday night’s Rivalry Week games, CasinoReview returns with a lowdown of those rivalry games taking place on Saturday, some of which will have serious implications within the hunt for the National Championship.

 

#1 Notre Dame @ USC

The Jeweled Shillelagh won’t be the only thing up for grabs at the Coliseum on Saturday. Notre Dame (11-0) will look to remain perfect on the season, which should be enough to book the Irish a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. USC (7-4, 5-4 Pac-12) has owned the Irish in recent years and will be looking to resuscitate a disappointing year ahead of Bowl season.

Favorite: Notre Dame Spread: 4 Total: 46

 

Auburn @ #2 Alabama (“The Iron Bowl”)

Last week’s chaotic results washed away the Tide’s surprise loss to Texas A&M. A win over arch-nemesis Auburn (3-8, 0-7 SEC) will sew-up the SEC West, and send Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC) to the Championship Game in Atlanta next weekend, where Georgia lays in wait.

Favorite: Alabama Spread: 34 Total: 46

 

#5 Oregon @ #15 Oregon State (“The Civil War”)

Stanford’s upset win over the Ducks means it’s now very unlikely that Oregon (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12) will be considered for the National Championship. In fact, Oregon’s division hopes are now in jeopardy and anything less than a win in this rivalry matchup against Oregon State (8-2, 6-2 Pac-12) will be disastrous. If the Ducks take the ‘W’, they’ll then have to hope UCLA knocks off Stanford.

Favorite: Oregon Spread: 12.5 Total: 64.5

 

#4 Florida @ #10 Florida State

Quarterback Jeff Driskell will start for Florida (10-1, 7-1 SEC) but the Gators will be up against the wall in this one, with bookies preferring the Seminoles. Florida State (10-1, 7-1 ACC) has beaten Florida two straight times, and will be looking to make it three in a row for the first time since 1998-2000. The winner of this one can expect to climb the BCS ladder.

Favorite: Florida State Spread: 7 Total: 44.5

 

Georgia Tech @ #3 Georgia (“Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate”)

Georgia (10-1, 7-1 SEC) has already booked its place in the SEC Championship Game, a win in which will most likely send the Bulldogs to the National Championship. This week is about taking home the Governor’s Cup though, something Georgia has done in 10 of the last 11 seasons. An upset win for the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech (6-5, 5-3 ACC) would send Georgia tumbling out of the national title conversation.

Favorite: Georgia Spread: 14 Total: 64.5

 

#12 South Carolina @ #11 Clemson

If Florida State falls to Florida and the Tigers defeat the Gamecocks, not only will Clemson (10-1, 7-1 ACC) take home Hardee’s Trophy but also the Atlantic Division, setting up a clash with Georgia Tech for the ACC championship. South Carolina (9-2, 6-2 SEC) has won the last three meetings between the sides though, making this anything but a dead cert.

Favorite: Clemson Spread: 4 Total: 61.5

 

#21 Oklahoma State @ #13 Oklahoma (“The Bedlam Series”)

Last year Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) took home the Bedlam Bell, snapping Oklahoma’s (8-2, 6-1 Big 12) eight-year hold on the trophy. This season, the Cowboys will look to keep a hold of it. The Sooners however are not out of the Big 12 title picture and need a win over their state rivals to keep pace with Kansas State, who owns the tiebreaker in the series.

Favorite: Oklahoma Spread: 9 Total: 72.5

 

#19 Michigan @ Ohio State

Michigan’s (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten) hopes of taking the Legends Division outright this year were extinguished by Nebraska’s victory over Iowa on Friday afternoon. Now the Wolverines will look to play spoiler and hand Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) its first loss of the season. A win for the Buckeyes and the undefeated season that comes along with it will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those playing for the postseason-banned school.

Favorite: Ohio State Spread: 4.5 Total: 54.5

 

Whilst those games will have some impact on the final BCS rankings and the National Championship hunt, a number of other games this weekend can determine whether teams will be Bowl eligible or not. There’s also bound to be some pure hatred flying around also. Don’t expect any of these to be pretty.

 

Illinois @ Northwestern

Illinois (2-9, 0-7 Big Ten) will hope to take home the Land of Lincoln Trophy for third straight year, securing its first conference win of the season in the process. Northwestern (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten) will look to pile more misery on the so-far hapless Illini.

Favorite: Northwestern Spread: 18.5 Total: 50.5

 

Southern Mississippi @ Memphis (“Black and Blue Bowl”)

Southern Mississippi (0-11, 0-7 CUSA) seeks its first win of the year in Memphis (3-8, 3-4 CUSA). A rivalry game is as good a time as any to notch a debut victory.

Favorite: Memphis Spread: 3.5 Total: 51.5

 

Troy at Middle Tennessee (“Battle for the Palladium”)

A win will not only give Troy (5-6, 3-4 Sun Belt) the Palladium Trophy but also makes the side Bowl eligible. Middle Tennessee (7-3, 5-1 Sun Belt) will look to prevent that, particularly as it looks to remain in the hunt for the Sun Belt Conference title.

Favorite: Middle Tennessee Spread: 3 Total: 67.5

 

Mississippi State @ Ole Miss (“The Egg Bowl”)

A 7-0 start for Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3 SEC) fizzled out once the Bulldogs came up against ranked opposition. Now the side will look to win the Golden Egg Trophy, something Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5 SEC) – looking to become Bowl eligible – will try to prevent.

Favorite: EVEN Spread: EVEN Total: 54.5

 

Indiana @ Purdue

Purdue (5-6, 2-5 Big Ten) is another side looking to become Bowl eligible. The Boilermakers will do so with a win over Indiana (4-7, 2-5 Big Ten), and take home the Old Oaken Bucket in the process.

Favorite: Purdue Spread: 6 Total: 62.5

 

Virginia @ Virginia Tech

Finally, Virginia Tech (5-6, 3-4 ACC) will look to become Bowl eligible with a win over rivals, Virginia (4-7, 2-5 ACC). History is on the side of the Hokies, who have won the Commonwealth Cup in eight straight seasons, and 12 of the last 13.

Favorite: Virginia Tech Spread: 10 Total: 49.5

Week 13 College Football Tips

Manti Te'o and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame will face a stiff challenge from rivals, USC.

It’s rivalry week in College Football which means there’s a wealth of games to get your bet on to. A number of teams will also be looking to take division honors, booking a place in those oh so important conference championship games. And then there’s the small matter of seeing whether #1 Notre Dame can close out the season unbeaten.

Welcome to the best week in College Football yet.

 

#1 Notre Dame @ USC

In what is arguably the toughest game to pick this weekend, #1 Notre Dame (11-0) travels to Los Angeles and puts its undefeated season – and National Championship hopes – on the line against rivals, USC (7-4, 5-4 Pac-12).

On season form alone the Fighting Irish would take this one without much of a battle but the fact that this USC makes this a much tougher prospect.

Notre Dame has won just one of its last 10 games against the Trojans – a 20-16 win in SoCal two years ago – and will be well aware of the fact that USC will want to close out the regular season on a high note, of which there have been few this season.

Odds: Notre Dame opened as four-point favorites and has seen that figure rise to 5.5. The over/under is 46.

Take: Notre Dame – A USC win here wouldn’t actually be a surprise, especially as it opens up the opportunity for absolute chaos in the rankings and National Championship hunt, so in many ways the Trojans look like the smart bet, particularly with history on their side. However, USC has faced only one team with a high-end defense this year, Stanford, and came up short. Meanwhile, Notre Dame has been expected to fall at every hurdle, but has used the best defense in the country to shutdown everybody. Take the Irish to do it again in this history-making season, with the Trojans covering the spread. Take the under, as has been the trend in nine Irish games this season.

 

#8 Stanford @ #17 UCLA

The Cardinal’s 17-14 overtime upset of Oregon last weekend completely changed the Pac-12 landscape. Now, Stanford (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) holds the advantage in the race for the North Division title, which it can take with a win or an Oregon loss this weekend.

UCLA (9-2, 6-2 Pac-12) meanwhile booked its place in the Pac-12 Championship Game with a win over USC last weekend. That doesn’t mean the Bruins will ease up this weekend, as some have suggested. Jim Mora’s side knows as well as anybody that another win will go a long way to climbing those rankings and getting a spot in a bigger, better Bowl game.

The clash at the Rose Bowl promises to be an intriguing matchup, as Stanford’s defense will look to shut down the high-scoring UCLA offense in the same manner as it did Oregon’s.

Odds: UCLA opened as 1.5-point favorites but the spread has switched in favor of Stanford (-2.5). The over/under is 53.

Take: Stanford – The Cardinal hasn’t lost since a Week 7 defeat at the hands of Notre Dame. Since that game, Stanford has looked a much improved side, and has conceded an average of just 11.4 points per game since. UCLA will need to score points to win this one, but points will certainly be at a premium. Take Stanford to cover the spread, and the total to go under, as it has in eight Cardinal games this season.

 

#19 Michigan @ Ohio State

In all likeliness, the Wolverines’ hopes of winning the Legends Division and heading to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game will be extinguished with a Nebraska win on Friday night. That means this one will be all about bragging rights for Brady Hoke’s side.

Michigan (8-3, 6-1 Big Ten) has won three straight and six of the last seven – that one blemish being an all-important loss at Nebraska – so will arrive at the Horseshoe confident.

Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) however will be looking to close out this Bowl-ineligible season undefeated, thus placing an asterisk beside whoever is crowned National Champion this season. Quarterback Braxton Miller will be looking to tally a few more Heisman votes in the process.

Odds: The Buckeyes are favorites (-4) at home with the over/under at 54.5.

Take: Ohio State – It’s been 12 years since the Wolverines won at Ohio Stadium and that doesn’t look like changing this week, despite the team’s improved play of late. Ohio State’s rampant point-scoring offense may struggle against a strong Michigan defense but it will ultimately win out. Take the Buckeyes to cover the spread with the total going under.

 

Quick Picks…

Take Florida (10-1, 7-1 SEC) to lose to favorites Florida State (10-1, 7-1 ACC), eliminating the Gators from any talk of a National Championship and making a few more people stand up and take notice of a very good Seminoles team. … Oregon (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12) will defeat Oregon State (8-2, 6-2 Pac-12), covering the 10-point spread, but ultimately last week’s loss will prove costly. … Alabama (10-1, 6-1 SEC) will be on upset watch but take the Tide to defeat Auburn (3-8, 0-7 SEC) in the Iron Bowl, although the Tigers will cover the 34-point spread. … Take the Tigers of Clemson (10-1, 7-1 ACC) to defeat South Carolina (9-2, 6-2 SEC) and take home Hardee’s Trophy, but not the Atlantic Division. … Finally, take Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) to upset Oklahoma (8-2, 6-1 Big 12) and retain the Bedlam Bell.

 

BCS Top 25 Schedule (Week 13)

TCU 20-13 #16 Texas (Thursday)

#7 LSU @ Arkansas (Friday)

#14 Nebraska @ Iowa (Friday)

Ohio @ #23 Kent State (Friday)

Arizona State @ #24 Arizona

#25 Washington @ Washington State (Friday)

#1 Notre Dame @ USC

Auburn @ #2 Alabama

Georgia Tech @ #3 Georgia

#4 Florida @ #10 Florida State

#5 Oregon @ #15 Oregon State

#8 Stanford @ #17 UCLA

Missouri @ #9 Texas A&M

#12 South Carolina @ #11 Clemson

#21 Oklahoma State @ #13 Oklahoma

#18 Rutgers @ Pittsburgh

#19 Michigan @ Ohio State

Connecticut @ #20 Louisville

#6 Kansas State – Bye

#22 Boise State – Bye

Week 11 College Football Tips

The Johnny Manziel-led Texas A&M Aggies will be looking to keep their SEC West title hopes alive with an upset win over #1 Alabama.

It feels like just yesterday we were preparing for Alabama’s showdown with Michigan at Cowboys Stadium, but believe it or not, it’s only a few short weeks until we reach championship and Bowl season.

A number of big games take place this week that could decide, or at least go a long way to deciding, who represents the various conferences at their respective championship games. There’re also a few games that might have some influence on the National Championship picture.

While Oregon heads to California, Notre Dame challenges Boston College and Kansas State takes on TCU – all games that should go with the formbook – let’s take a look at this weekend’s ranked matchups and see how they might impact the final standings.

 

#15 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s set a scenario. If Alabama was to close out the season with losses to both A&M and Auburn, and the Aggies knocked off Mizzou in the last week of the regular season, Texas A&M would head to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. How would that be for an SEC debut?

Now, before we get ahead of ourselves, nobody believes that Alabama is going to lose one game, let alone two, but, whilst there’s a possibility, maybe it’s worth a gamble?

The clash on Saturday will mark only the fourth encounter between the two sides, the last one coming in 1988. Alabama won that game and is 3-1 overall. Alabama had a tough outing against LSU last week, and showed for the first time that it may well be beatable. It’s up to Johnny Manziel and the Aggies to try and prove that the Tide is beatable.

Odds: Alabama opened as 15½-point favorites but that number has fallen to 14 ahead of kickoff. The over/under is 56.

Take: Alabama – Aside from slipups to Florida and LSU, Texas A&M has looked good this season, just not good enough to head Alabama off at the pass. The best the Aggies can hope for is to cover the spread, which is a good bet. Take the under on 56 points; both teams will be relying on defense on Saturday.

 

#11 Oregon State @ #17 Stanford

Oregon has all but been awarded the Pac-12 North title, and a place in the BCS Championship game, but in reality, were the Ducks to slip up, it’s possible that either the Cardinal or the Beavers could leapfrog the team from Eugene.

The team that stands a chance of doing just that will be decided this weekend at the Farm. Neither team will be mathematically eliminated this weekend, but the winner looks likely to have the best advantage heading into the final two weeks of the season.

Stanford convincingly leads the all-time head-to-head 50-25-3 and has won two on the bounce. However, Oregon State has won seven of the last 11.

Odds: Stanford is favored at home but an opening 5½ spread has fallen to four. The over/under is 45.

Take: Oregon State – This is a perfect opportunity to take the underdog. The Beavers have looked solid all season, while Stanford has had a few questionable moments. A win for Oregon State sets up a Civil War game for the North title. Take the over.

 

Arizona State @ #19 USC

Remember in the preseason when pundits and bookies had USC to win it all? Things haven’t exactly panned out that way, have they?

This weekend, Arizona State travels to Los Angeles knowing that a win will leapfrog the Sun Devils over the Trojans into second place in the Pac-12 South or, even better, first if UCLA loses to WASU later in the day.

USC meanwhile will be looking to right an unsteady ship and begin a charge to the title, thus making amends for a disappointing season. A win on Saturday, coupled with a UCLA loss would put the Trojans at the top of the table. Even if UCLA defeats the Cougars, a showdown with USC lies in wait next weekend.

USC is 18-10 all-time against Arizona State. However, the Trojans has an 11-game win streak shattered last season when the Sun Devils took a 43-22 victory in the desert. Arizona State has not won at the Coliseum since 1999.

Odds: USC opened as 10-point favorites, but action has seen the spread drop to nine. The over/under is 65.

Take: USC – The Trojans have not lost three straight since 2001 and look to have an offense strong enough to handle the Sun Devils, who have lost three straight themselves. Take USC to cover the spread and the total to go over.

 

BCS Top 25 Schedule (Week 11)

Ball State 34-27 #25 Toledo (Tuesday)

#10 Florida State 28-22 Virginia Tech (Thursday)

#15 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama

#2 Kansas State @ TCU

#3 Oregon @ California

#4 Notre Dame @ Boston College

#5 Georgia @ Auburn

Louisiana-Lafayette @ #6 Florida

#21 Mississippi State @ #7 LSU

Arkansas @ #8 South Carolina

#9 Louisville @ Syracuse

#11 Oregon State @ #14 Stanford

Baylor @ #12 Oklahoma

Maryland @ #13 Clemson

Penn State @ #16 Nebraska

Iowa State @ #17 Texas

#18 UCLA @ Washington State

Arizona State @ #19 USC

#20 Louisiana Tech @ Texas State

Kansas @ #22 Texas Tech

Army @ #23 Rutgers

#24 Northwestern @ Michigan

Big Games Still on the College Football Slate

Thanks to an elaborate sequence of events, a win over Wisconsin this weekend could find the Indiana Hoosiers representing the Leaders Division in the Big Ten Championship Game.

On Tuesday CasinoReview took a look at the biggest rivalry games still to be played this season. There’s a whole chunk of them and College Football is going to be exciting down to the last play of the season.

Today we’ve trawled through the remaining schedule and picked out the biggest (non-rivalry) games left on the slate, most of which focus on those teams looking to play their way into a conference championship game or a conference title itself.

Below is a list of the top ten(ish) fixtures left on the schedule.

Editor’s Note: Much of the content is based on assumptions that the formbook will remain true. Of course, College Football is all too good at throwing upsets out there, so there’s (always) a chance that those games played towards the end of November may take on a whole different meaning. For now, let’s play nicely in the world of theoretical football. As a final note, the games included on this list generally feature two sides that will be impacted by the same game. Yes, we know Alabama-Texas A&M is going to be a big game, but more so for the Tide than the Aggies.

 

Wisconsin @ Indiana (Nov. 10)

Big Ten: Indiana could represent the Leaders Division at the Big Ten Championship Game. This might seem a little beyond the realms of plausibility, but it’s true. Due to both Ohio State and Penn State – the two table-toppers – being ineligible, Wisconsin currently fills the ‘top’ spot, one-game ahead of the Hoosiers. If Indiana beats the Badgers, in theory it has an ‘easier’ schedule (at Penn State, at Purdue) than Wisconsin (Vs. Ohio State, at Penn State). That means this Saturday’s game could ultimately decide the Leaders Division’s representative. Shocking.

San Diego State @ Air Force (Nov. 10)

MWC: It should be duly noted that the Mountain West isn’t simply about one big game; there are plenty to follow. With five teams still in the hunt, this weekend’s clash between the Aztecs and Falcons will not decide the conference, but it will make a massive dent. As well as this meeting with the San Diego State, Air Force still has an impending clash with Fresno State (Nov. 24) which puts the impetus firmly on the Falcons’ side of the field. Nevada’s games with Fresno State (Nov. 10) and Boise State (Dec. 1) could prove to have a huge impact too.

Arizona State @ USC (Nov. 10)

Pac-12: USC hosts the Sun Devils this coming weekend aware that a loss will effectively mean the end of the Trojans’ hopes for the South Division title. A win for USC sets up a must-win game with UCLA the following weekend, although Lane Kiffin’s side will still need to hope Stanford can knock off the Bruins in the last week of the season.

Oregon State @ Stanford (Nov. 10)

Pac-12: Big strides can be made in the Pac-12 North this weekend also, as the Beavers travel to the Farm to take on Stanford. Both sides currently have conference records of 5-1, and are within touching distance of the undefeated Oregon. A loss for either side will see those championship chances extinguished. Both sides still have to face Oregon, which brings us to…

Stanford @ Oregon (Nov. 17) or Oregon @ Oregon State (Nov. 24)

Pac-12: If Stanford beats Oregon State, the North Division title will be decided in Eugene, Ore., on Nov. 17. If the Beavers win, a Civil War showdown in Corvallis on Nov. 24 will be for all the marbles. Yes, we realize that this list wasn’t supposed to include rivalry match-ups, but this is one hell of a three-way dance.

Kent State @ Bowling Green (Nov. 17)

MAC: Bowling Green’s 26-14 win over Ohio on Wednesday night looks to have turned a three-horse race for the MAC’s Eastern Division into a two horse race. Providing the team wins this weekend, the Golden Flashes will visit Perry Stadium knowing that a win will all but secure the title.

Utah State @ Louisiana Tech (Nov. 17)

WAC: The Bulldogs of LA Tech have been bothering the rankings for what seems like the better part of the season now. Only a loss to Texas A&M mars the school’s record. But Louisiana Tech isn’t guaranteed a second straight WAC title. Utah State, still unbeaten in the conference, will have a say in who is crowned the final conference football champion. Essentially, barring any hiccups down the stretch, this game will determine who takes the prize.

Toledo @ Northern Illinois (Nov. 17)

MAC: Currently one and two in the MAC’s Western Division, the Rockets and Huskies will meet in DeKalb, Ill., next weekend in what could be the division decider. Toledo’s loss to Ball State on Tuesday night has given Northern Illinois the advantage for now, but a head-to-head win would propel Toledo above the Huskies.

Louisville @ Rutgers (Nov. 29)

Big East: With both sides facing two conference challenges between now and this New Jersey showdown, a lot of scenarios can arise. For now, it’s simple: if both teams steer the course, this clash will determine who closes out the season as Big East champions.

Arkansas State @ Middle Tennessee (Dec. 1)

Sun Belt: Finally, with four weeks of play left, the Sun Belt Conference is completely up for grabs. No fewer than seven teams (Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Lafayette, Troy, and North Texas) are still mathematically in the mix, which makes this a bettors’ paradise or nightmare, depending how you look at it. Let’s keep it simple then; if the remaining schedule is true to the formbook, this clash between the Red Wolves and Blue Raiders could well decide the division. This weekend’s rivalry clash between Arkansas State and ULM could have a huge bearing also.

 

List of Conference Championship Games

ACC: Sat., Dec. 1 – Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)

Big Ten: Sat., Dec. 1 – Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN)

C-USA: Sat, Dec. 1 – Hosted by team with highest winning percentage

MAC: Fri., Nov. 30 – Ford Field (Detroit, MI)

Pac-12: Fri., Nov. 30 – Hosted by team with best conference record

SEC: Sat., Dec. 1 – Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA)

BCS National Championship Game: Mon., Jan. 7 – Sun Life Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)

Top 10 Rivalry Games Remaining

Such is the intense rivalry of the Iron Bowl, A.J. McCarron and Alabama will know that beating Auburn will be a tough task, regardless of what the Tigers' record might suggest.

Rather unsurprisingly, our focus here at CasinoReview has been well and truly aimed at the BCS National Championship race, which continues to offer intrigue and drama at every turn. But not everything revolves around the four sides that look to be in with a shot at the crystal football.

Fans across the nation, particularly those partisan to teams not at the top of the BCS rankings, are still looking forward to rivalry games. We all know that to many, a rivalry game is far more important than watching Alabama or Oregon make their way to Miami.

We’ve already seen Michigan take the Paul Bunyan Trophy from Michigan State for the first time in five years. We’ve watched as Oklahoma laid waste to Texas in the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl. We’ve witnessed as Kansas State beat Kansas for the Governor’s Cup. We’ve even seen Utah State defeat Utah in the Battle of the Brothers for the first time in 13 years. And, of course, we saw Alabama defeat LSU in epic fashion last weekend.

But there’re still plenty of rivalries on the slate before we get to Bowl Season. No doubt we’ll be taking a closer look at some of these as we move towards December, but before then, here’s a look at the top rivalry games still to be played this season.

Editor’s Note: these games are listed in chronological order. We’re well aware of the impending backlash had we suggested that the Civil War was a bigger game than the Iron Bowl, or that the Territorial Cup was not as important as the Victory Bell.

USC @ UCLA (Nov. 17)

Southern California will face two of its biggest rivals in the final two weeks of the season. Notre Dame visits the Coliseum on the final day of the Pac-12 regular season, but before that, the Trojans head to Pasadena to take on the UCLA Bruins. Not only will the Victory Bell be up for grabs this season, but there’s also the small business of who will represent the South Division in the Pac-12 Championship game? The Bruins are currently ahead of USC in that race.

Arizona State @ Arizona (Nov. 23)

Starting Rivalry Week off early, the Duel in the Desert could have implications on the Pac-12 South if results go the right or wrong way, depending on your preference. The Wildcats will look to retain the Territorial Cup, while the Sun Devils will look to take the trophy for the second time in three years.

Washington @ Washington State (Nov. 23)

After a horrible season that has seen the Cougars win just two games so far, Washington State will look to make amends to its fans by bringing the Apple Cup home for the first time since 2008. The Huskies meanwhile will be hoping that their historical dominance of the game – Washington leads the all-time head-to-head 59-29-4 – carries over for another season.

Auburn @ Alabama (Nov. 24)

It doesn’t matter that the Auburn Tigers have won just two games (so far) this season and have yet to win a game in the SEC (so far), records get thrown out of the window when these two schools collide in the Iron Bowl. That could spell big trouble for Alabama, who will probably still be in search of an undefeated season by the time these two meet. Imagine how much Auburn would love to ruin that particular dream. This final week match-up – and one of the biggest rivalries in all of College Football – will get plenty of action from fans and bettors alike.

Florida @ Florida State (Nov. 24)

Bar a collapse by more teams that we care to imagine, neither Florida side will be thinking BCS Championship by this point in the season. Both however may be on their way to playing in a conference championship. Before that, the two will collide in Tallahassee, with bragging rights on the line. The Seminoles have taken the last two games, breaking Florida’s six-game win streak in the process.

Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma (Nov. 24)

Having already beaten Texas in one huge rivalry this season, Oklahoma will be favored against their intrastate rivals when the two take to the field in Norman. The Sooners have historically made mincemeat out of the Cowboys and lead the head-to-head 74-17-7. But, with this being a rivalry game, anything can and will happen. Last year, Oklahoma State took the game 44-10, the Cowboys’ first win since 2002.

Oregon State @ Oregon (Nov. 24)

At this moment in time, Oregon has bigger things on its mind, but come the day of the Civil War, the Ducks will be focused on winning, regardless of whether their undefeated streak remains intact or not. As well as bragging rights, the lead in the Pac-12 North could also be on the line come late November, which adds a further layer of spice to the rivalry. The Beavers will have added incentive knowing that they have not beaten Oregon since December 2007.

South Carolina @ Clemson (Nov. 24)

Currently battling Florida State in both the BCS rankings and the ACC standings, Clemson may well be on its way to a conference championship when they host South Carolina. The Gamecocks are not quite out of the running in the SEC East, but probably will be by the time Hardee’s Trophy is on the line. Clemson’s last win over South Carolina came in 2008, the 100th installment of the rivalry.

Virginia Tech @ Virginia (Nov. 24)

Currently languishing at the bottom of the ACC’s Coastal Division, the duo of Virginia and Virginia Tech will have little reward this season other than the Commonwealth Cup. This will be a hugely important game for both sides then. The Hokies will likely enter this one as overwhelming favorites, thanks to an eight-game winning streak against the Cavaliers. Virginia last took home the Commonwealth Cup in 2003, its one win in 13 attempts.

Army Vs. Navy (Dec. 8 )

Finally, after all of the conference championships have been decided, and ahead of the Bowl season, it’ll be down to these two long-time rivals to finish off the regular season in style. The Army-Navy Game returns to Philadelphia this season following last year’s detour to Washington. The Army Black Knights trail the Navy Midshipman 56-49-7 in the all-time head-to-head, with Navy having taken the last 10 encounters.

 

Honorable Mentions

Of course, the list of rivalry games still to play far exceeds those we’ve mentioned above. To give you a little taster of what else is out there, here are our honorable mentions. These games might not have made the main list but they’re still worth watching, not to mention putting a few dollars on.

Notre Dame @ Boston College (Nov. 10)

Illinois @ Northwestern (Nov. 24)

Michigan @ Ohio State (Nov. 24)

Notre Dame @ USC (Nov. 24)

 

Come back on Thursday to read our list of the top ten games (non-rivalry related) still left to play.