Another Great Saturday Slate for You to Consider

Kiffin Saban
Kiffin Saban
The combination of Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban is an odd one and their next challenge is in Knoxville.

Alabama (-17.5) at Tennessee (O/U 46.5) – It’s pretty much a shame that the focus of tomorrow’s game is less about the players and more about Lane Kiffin’s return to Knoxville. Kiffin is now the offensive coordinator at Alabama and was the coach at Tennessee for just one year 2009. His tenure was marked by stupid comments and a quick split out of town for USC.

The Vols have improved under Butch Jones but this program is still a few years away from truly competing at a high level. I expect the team to have its’ moments tomorrow but these guys are significantly over-matched by an Alabama team fresh off a 59-0 destruction of Texas A&M.

Trends: Alabama is 2-7 against the spread in their last nine games… The Vols are 0-5 against the spread in their last five games at home against Bama… The Crimson Tide are 18-2 straight up in their last 20 road games… The total has gone UNDER in five of Tennessee’s last seven games against Alabama in Neyland Stadium.

The Pick: Take the Tide to cover and the OVER.

Bunyan
The Paul Bunyan Trophy is what Michigan and Michigan State will battle for tomorrow.

Michigan (+17.5) at Michigan State (O/U 49.5) – The Backyard Brawl in recent years has been more like the “Spartan Beat Down” as Michigan State has dominated the series winning five of the last six. Brady Hoke is no longer on the hot seat in Ann Arbor, he’s a dead man walking and sure to be replaced this winter.

Things couldn’t be better in East Lansing where Mark Dantonio has built the Spartans into a national powerhouse behind toughness, discipline and difference-making players. Last year, the Spartans sacked Devin Gardner eight times in pounding the Wolverines 29-6.

The only way Michigan keeps this close is with their defense which has been pretty decent but I don’t think they are good enough to completely stop the Spartans which they would need to do to win.

Trends: Michigan is 8-16-1 against the spread in their last 25 games on the road… The total has gone OVER is eight of MSU’s last nine games… The Wolverines are 1-6 straight up in their last seven road games… The Spartans have won five straight since losing to Oregon.

The Pick: This one is over early. Take Sparty to cover and take the OVER.

Ole Miss (-4) at LSU (O/U 44.5) – LSU is 35-2 at home since 2009 and despite this being one of Les Miles’ weaker teams, this can’t be overlooked. At stake for the Rebels is obviously their unbeaten season. The thought of both Ole Miss and Mississippi State (who already beat the Tigers in Baton Rouge) being unbeaten when they play their season finales against each other is enough to boil over the Magnolia State.

The problem that LSU is facing is that the Ole Miss defense is darn good and the Tigers’ offense is struggling to find a QB and consistency. In order for LSU to pull off the upset, the Tigers’ defense will need a colossal effort to limit Bo Wallace and the Rebels’ offense.

Trends: Ole Miss is 1-5 straight up in its’ last six games when playing LSU in Death Valley… The Tigers are 0-5 against the spread in their last five games at home against the Rebels… The total has gone OVER in four of Ole Miss’ last five games when playing the Tigers… The total has gone UNDER in four of LSU’s last six games at home.

The Pick: Every time I count out Les Miles, he burns me. Take the Tigers at home and getting the points and take the UNDER as well.

Other Games of Note:

South Carolina (17) at Auburn (O/U 64.5) – Auburn covers, take the OVER

Mississippi State (-14) at Kentucky (O/U 59) – Take UK and the points, UNDER

Oregon State (+13) at Stanford (O/U 42) – Take the Beavers and the points, UNDER

Auburn Red Hot Against the Spread

The Auburn Tigers play the Tennessee Volunteers in a SEC matchup on Saturday in Tennessee. Auburn is 8-1 SU and 7-2 ATS this season and has played exceptionally well of late. Tennessee is 4-5 SU and ATS.

The current line has Auburn -7.5, with the point total sitting on 55. The line opened on Bovada and topbet at -6.5, but was driven up to -7.5 on sites like betonline and currently is at that same -7.5.

The last time the two teams met was in 2009 and Auburn won 26-22 to cover a favorite spread of 2.5 points.

Auburn over its past seven games is 7-0 STS. Tennessee over its past five games after suffering a loss SU is 4-1 ATS. Over the past four head-to-head matchups between these two teams, the road team has a record of 4-0 ATS.

Auburn is 6-0 SU over its past six games and 7-0 ATS over its past seven. The Tigers have defeated solid opponents including Texas A&M and Mississippi.

Tre Mason, the Tigers’ running back is averaging 18 rushes per game and 102 yards. He has scored 13 touchdowns on the ground, while the team has scored 28 rushing touchdowns overall.

Tennessee had a great win over South Carolina earlier in the season, but has lost two straight to Missouri and Alabama. This is the fifth straight game in which Tennessee will face a team ranked No. 11 in the nation or higher.

The Tennessee defense struggles against the run, allowing over 217 yards each game and the Auburn Tigers are strong in that facet of their offense.

Auburn has won on the road against quality teams this season and Tennessee is not a quality team. The Tigers are on a six-gaming winning streak ATS.

Auburn will have Anthony Swain their linebacker, but he may be slowed with a knee injury. Tennessee’s starting quarterback Justin Worley is out with a broken bone in his hand. Devrin Young, the Volunteer’s wide receiver is out with a hand injury as well.

The losses of Worley and Young will slow down the Volunteers offense enough for the Tigers to win by three touchdowns or more.

Pick: Auburn – 35-12

College Football Week 5 Offers A Few Potential Upsets

Braxton Miller and Ohio State visit Michigan State in the first week of Big Ten conference play.

 

It didn’t take long for the upsets to start. Washington (3-1) beat #8 Stanford (3-1) 17-13 on Thursday night in a match few thought the Huskies had a chance in. With the game at CenturyLink Field – the site of Monday’s NFL upset/debacle – people probably should have thought a little harder.

The remaining Week 5 college football slate doesn’t look like it has too many upsets on it, but then again, how many times has that been said this week. Here’s a look at some of the key matchups.

 

Ranked Matchups

As Big Ten conference play kicks off, #14 Ohio State (4-0, 0-0 road) visits #20 Michigan State (3-1, 3-0 home) as 3-point underdogs. The Spartans have been touted for their defense this season, but a loss to Notre Dame two weeks ago suggest it might not be up to scratch. Against Ohio State and the elusive Braxton Miller, the defense will get tested. With the way the Big Ten’s going this year, take Ohio State to win this one.

In the only other ranked game this weekend, #25 Baylor (3-0, 1-0 road) travels to #9 West Virginia (3-0, 3-0 home) to see what all the Geno Smith fuss is about. The Bears have been on the cusp of the AP rankings this season, but expect them to fall off the list again as the 11-point favorite Mountaineers win this one comfortably.

 

Top of the Polls

Let’s cut to the chase. The AP Poll’s top three all have it easy this week. #1 Alabama and #3 Oregon are 30+ point favorites against Ole Miss and Washington State respectively. #2 LSU takes on Towson of the FCS. Everything there should go to order.

#4 Florida State meanwhile pays a visit to South Florida in what some are picking to be a potential upset, but in reality is going to go the same way as the Seminoles’ last four.

So that brings us to this SEC East beauty. Tennessee (3-1, 0-0 road) visits #5 Georgia (4-0, 3-0 home) in the first of four consecutive games against ranked opposition. The Vols looked ordinary against Florida two weeks ago and the Bulldogs have looked like beasts. Freshman RB Todd Gurley has already ran for 406 yards and six touchdowns. Take favorites Georgia to win outright and to beat the 14-point spread.

#12 Texas (3-0, 1-0 road) heads to Oklahoma State (2-1, 2-0 home) on the back of an extra week to prepare for the Cowboys. This is a close one to call as highlighted by the 3-point spread in favor of the visitors. If Texas is to improve on two poor seasons, they’ll need to run and run early against the Cowboys defense. Ultimately, take the home team to win a close one and get the experts asking even more questions about the Longhorns.

#18 Oregon State (2-0, 1-0 road) visits Arizona (3-1, 3-0 home) as underdogs. It appears oddsmakers aren’t bowled over by two solid performances. The Wildcats have played well this season, bar last week’s 49-0 drubbing at the hands of Oregon. Take Arizona to beat the 3-point spread in a rebound performance.

#22 Nebraska (3-1, 3-0 home) hosts Big Ten rivals Wisconsin (3-1, 0-1 road) in a battle of underachievers.  Badgers’ RB Montee Ball is having a tough time of it trying to run the football this season, so if the away team is to get anything out of this visit that will have to change. Meanwhile, the Cornhuskers have looked less than impressive this season, and suggestions that their place in the polls is down to last year’s performance may not be too far from the mark. In this one the Huskers will be 12-point favorites. Take Wisconsin to beat the spread but lose a close one in what will be a scrappy game.

 

Worth a Watch?

It’s a quieter week in college football than normal but here are a few games that might be worth a watch.

Louisiana Tech (3-0, 2-0 road) heads to Virginia (2-2, 2-0 home) and while most will switch channels this could be a doozy. The Bulldogs are running rampant in the WAC and have not scored less than 52 points in three games. With the spread at just three points, take the favored Bulldogs to win this one with the 60 point over/under being smashed in a shootout.

UTSA (4-0, 2-0 road) visits New Mexico State (1-3, 1-1 home) in the WAC’s first conference game. The Aggies opened as favorites but that line has quickly changed. The Roadrunners are now one-point favorites to beat a New Mexico team that has lost three straight. Take the Aggies to break the trend and beat the spread.

Finally, Rice (1-3, 1-1 road) and Houston (0-3, 0-1 road) meet in the Bayou Bowl at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Cougars could do with some of the Texans’ good play rubbing off on them. Take Houston as 7½-point underdogs to finally get off the mark.

 

AP Top 25 (Week 4 Fixtures)

Washington 17, #8 Stanford 13 (Thursday)

Ole Miss @ #1 Alabama

#2 Oregon @ Washington State

Towson @ #3 LSU

#4 Florida State @ South Florida

Tennessee @ #5 Georgia

#6 South Carolina @ Kentucky

#25 Baylor @ #9 West Virginia

#12 Texas @ Oklahoma State

#14 Ohio State @ #20 Michigan State

#15 TCU @ Southern Methodist

#17 Clemson @ Boston College

#18 Oregon State @ Arizona

#19 Louisville @ Southern Miss

Wisconsin @ #22 Nebraska

#24 Boise State @ New Mexico

 BYE: #7 Kansas State, #10 Notre Dame, #11 Florida, #13 USC, #16 Oklahoma, #21 Mississippi State, #23 Rutgers

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