Lots of Leftovers for Your Wagering Plate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday’s Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Games

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

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

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

College Football by the Numbers After a Crazy Saturday

Golson
Golson
Everett Golson has the Irish in position to rise in the polls after beating Stanford.

It all started on Thursday night when unranked but unbeaten Arizona traveled to Eugene and knocked off Oregon. If we only knew that was just the beginning of one of the craziest days in recent college football memory.

Top-ranked Florida State had no problem with Wake Forest early in the day on Saturday making us think that maybe this wouldn’t be such an usual day but then the chips started to fall. #7 Texas A&M went to 12th-ranked Mississippi State and lost 48-31 while Ole Miss scored the biggest win of the day in knocking off third-ranked Alabama 23-17.

So take a breath here because the day of craziness was far from over. Soon after Bama went down #4 Oklahoma lost 37-33 to TCU in Fort Worth. So if you’re keeping score at home, teams ranked second, third and fourth in the most recent Coaches Poll had lost. But the day wasn’t over yet.

UCLA, who had been wining by the skin of their teeth before blowing out Arizona State last week, was beaten at home by Utah 30-28. Fellow Pac-12 teams USC (#16) and Stanford (#14) both went down as well.

Dantonio
Mark Dantonio and his Spartans should run the table making things interesting for the playoff race.

#10 Michigan State survived Nebraska’s visit to East Lansing winning 27-22 after leading 17-0 at halftime. Big Ten West Division favorite and #17 Wisconsin was beaten in Evanston by Northwestern who now stands at 2-0 in the division.

Also going down in the top 25 last night was #18 BYU who was throttled at home by Utah State.

To put this all in perspective, the following ranks all lost this week; 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 16 ,17, 18, 19.

Obviously someone came out smelling like a rose this weekend and there are a few contenders for that title. Number five Auburn destroyed LSU 41-7 and will likely slide into the #2 spot in the polls. #11 Ole Miss and #12 Mississippi State will both rise into the top ten. Also benefiting from the action Saturday is #7 Baylor who beat Texas 28-7 and #9 Notre Dame who needed a last-second touchdown to beat Stanford in South Bend.

When the format for the college football playoff came out, it was pretty much a given that the SEC would more than likely secure two of the four spots simply because of their strength of schedule and number of teams that would rise especially in the West Division. The problem is that the East Division is not good and unless Georgia can run the table the East won’t put up much of a battle in the SEC title game.

The other problem for the SEC West is that it’s highly unlikely anyone comes out unscathed. Both Ole Miss and Mississippi State were impressive yesterday but they both still have each other to play as well as other top teams in the West.

The SEC could benefit however from all of the losses in the Pac-12 and Oklahoma’s loss too. Now Baylor stands as the only unbeaten in the Big-12 and still has to play at Oklahoma.

The Big Ten’s only hope remains Michigan State. Their only loss is to Oregon but now that loss looks less impressive with the Ducks losing at home. Still, an impressive win over Ohio State along with going unbeaten the rest of the way could squeeze them in to the playoff.

The team that is the most interesting right now is Notre Dame who is unbeaten. The Irish shouldn’t have any trouble with North Carolina in South Bend next week but then has three straight road games at Florida State, Navy and Arizona State. I have a hard time seeing the Irish come out unscathed in that stretch. If they do, it’ll come to down to the finale with USC.

My College Football Playoff Predictions

Michigan State – I still think they’ll need some help but they should run the table.

Alabama – I think the Tide will beat Auburn for the West title and then will go on to win the SEC.

Florida State – I omitted them last week because I thought they might slip up at some point but now I just don’t see it happening.

Notre Dame – Even with one loss, their strength of schedule will be better then many other one-loss teams.

Giants at ‘Skins Highlights Nice Thursday Night Football Schedule

Cousins
Cousins
Kirk Cousins put up huge numbers last week and may have to again against the Giants.

NY Giants (+3.5) at Washington (O/U 45) – The long-time NFC East rivals clash in a very crucial early season game. Why is it crucial? Because both teams are 1-2 and the loser drops to 1-3. Philadelphia is already 3-0 and Dallas is 2-1. While being 1-3 is not a death blow by any stretch it doesn’t make things very easy heading into the second fourth of the schedule.

The Giants rank 22nd in total defense and 22nd against the pass and that’s not good with Kirk Cousins lighting up the Eagles last week. If New York cannot get consistent pressure it could be a long night.

The ‘Skins currently rank fourth in both total defense and against the run. New York ranks 25th in total offense and 18th in rushing. This is where the G-Men will have to make their mark in order to keep Washington pass rushers at bay.

Trends: The G-Men have won seven of their last ten against the Redskins straight up and are scoring six points more than Washington per game over that span… The Redskins are 1-10 SU in their last 11 games… New York is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games against Washington… The total has gone UNDER in five of Washington’s last seven games against the Giants at home in FedEx Field.

The Pick: Eli Manning was better last week but the ‘Skins pass rush may be too much. Take Washington to cover and take the UNDER.

Gundy
Mike Gundy's Cowboys welcome the Red Raiders Thursday night to Stllwater.

Texas Tech (+13) at Oklahoma State (O/U 71.5) – Despite the fact that Oklahoma State likes to throw the ball around a good deal, I’m sure Mike Gundy took notice of badly the Red Raiders were run over by Arkansas’ running game.

This reminds me of a typical Texas Tech team. Good offense but a defense that lacks toughness and playmakers.

Trends: The Red Raiders have not beaten the Cowboys since 2008 which amounts to a five-year losing streak… Oklahoma State is 5-0 straight up in their last five against the Red Raiders in Stillwater… Texas Tech is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at OSU… The total has gone OVER in four of the Cowboys’ last six games at home against the Red Raiders.

The Pick: OSU to cover and I like the OVER

UCLA (-5.5) at Arizona State – So far in 2014, the Bruins have escaped all three of their games with wins despite looking less than dominant. UCAL has defeated three unranked opponents by a total margin of just 18 points.

Heisman hopeful Brett Hundley has had little to no time to pass and now is banged up and questionable for this one. The Sun Devils are also 3-0 against unranked opponents of a lesser variety but they handled all three.

ASU has QB issues of their own however with Trevor Kelly out with a foot injury. Great teams find ways to win when they aren’t playing their best and the Bruins have done that. Can they do it again this week?

Trends: These two teams have split their last ten meetings with UCLA averaging 30 points per game and Arizona State averaging 33… UCLA is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games on the road… ASU is 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games against UCLA… The total has gone OVER in four of UCLA’s last five games when playing ASU… The Sun Devils are 10-2 straight up in their last 12 games at home.

The Pick: I think UCLA’s luck runs out tomorrow night. Take the home dog Devils and the OVER.

What We Know and What We Don’t Through Three Weeks of College Football

SEC
SEC
The SEC has remained in its' dominant place at the top so far in college football.

We are now through three full weeks of college football and typically by this time we have a small glimpse of who the top teams might be. I would accept arguments right now on any number of teams but I still haven’t seen one team that makes me sit up and take notice. Consider the following games from this past weekend.

Georgia was the darling of the college football world after their huge win over Clemson in their opener. Paired with South Carolina’s devastating loss to Texas A&M, many CFB experts we suddenly changing their picks for the winner of the SEC East Division. The Gamecocks barely escaped East Carolina (more on them later) in week two so naturally, we thought Georgia would go into Columbia and win right?

Georgia battled hard by fell 38-35 to the Gamecocks. The loss opens things back up for South Carolina and also makes each team’s game with Florida that much bigger now.

As far as those Pirates of ECU are concerned, all they did was go into Blacksburg and knock off unbeaten Virginia Tech 28-21. This was a Hokies team that upset Ohio State in Columbus just a week before. Suddenly we were all thinking that maybe the ACC wasn’t easy street for Florida State. Well, maybe it is after all.

Hundley
The Bruins proved they can win without Hundley, but their wins have been ugly.

One of the sexier picks to make the Championship Playoff this season was UCLA led by Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley. The good news is the Bruins are still unbeaten at 3-0, but their wins have been struggles. They defeated Virginia on the road with defense, barely survived Memphis in the Rose Bowl by seven and then Saturday they managed to get by Texas 20-17 with Hundley out with an elbow injury.

Back-up Jerry Neuheisel led the Bruins to the go-ahead touchdown with three minutes to go in the fourth. Let’s be clear; the name of the game in college football is winning and UCLA is winning but I have a hard time seeing this get through the Pac-12 schedule unscathed right now.

What We Know

What is blatantly obvious to all of us is that the Big Ten is not going to go anywhere near the playoff with several miracles. A week ago the conference suffered losses at the top with Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State going down and losses at the bottom with Northwestern and Purdue losing to MAC schools.

This past weekend, Michigan was taken deep into the second half by Miami, OH before pulling away in the fourth. Indiana lost to Bowling Green and Iowa lost at home to rival Iowa State by three. This is a Cyclones’ team that was throttled at home in the opener by North Dakota State too.

As bad as the Big Ten has been, the SEC has been quite the opposite.

The best football conference in the country is proving worthy of their title as they now have seven teams in the Top 25. Alabama, Auburn, Texas A&M, LSU and Ole Miss are in the top ten and each is unbeaten. Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri are also listed. The tragic irony of this dominant situation is that the SEC could very well knock itself around too much.

Florida plays at Alabama this coming Saturday and then in two weeks, things get really interesting. LSU will play at Auburn and Alabama will travel to Ole Miss. While it’s doubtful anyone comes out without some scratches, the SEC can’t beat itself up too much or it could cost itself the two spots we’ve all given it in the final four.

As usual, there’s a lot that can happen.

 

Odds to Win the 2014 Pac-12 South Division

Hundley
Hundley
I expect Brett Hundley and the UCLA Bruins to capture the Pac-12 South.

On Wednesday I gave you the Pac-12 North odds and who I liked to win it. Today, I’m presenting the Pac-12 South which I believe is a four-horse race.

UCLA 5/4 – Jim Mora, Jr. enters his third year in Los Angeles and brings with him high expectations coming off a very nice 10-3 record. Nine starters return on offense while the defense returns eight. Dual-threat quarterback Brett Hundley returns to lead the offense as does Freshman of the Year Myles Jack who plays on both sides of the ball. The only scary road trips are against Texas in Arlington and at Arizona State. The Bruins get USC and Stanford at home to finish the season. Another 10-win season is very possible.

USC 7/4 – It’s year of Steve Sarkisian and expectations are high. Cody Kessler is one of seven starters who return on offense and he has already been named the starter at QB. Seven starters also return on defense which bodes well for a team facing a tough start to the season. The Trojans get always tough Fresno State at home before traveling to Stanford and then across the country to Boston College. Trips to Arizona and UCLA also await. SC does get Notre Dame, Arizona State and Oregon State at home. I think eight wins is the number but some will expect higher.

Graham
Todd Graham's Sun Devils could repeat with some big road wins in 2014.

Arizona State 3 /1 – Todd Graham has a very nice 18-9 record in two years at ASU but the real test begins as the Sun Devils return just two starters on defense and only six on the offensive side of the ball. I like the job he has done since leaving Pitt in the middle of the night, but the chances of repeating as South Division champs are going to be very difficult. The schedule is brutal in my opinion with trips to USC, Washington, Oregon State and Arizona. The home schedule isn’t much better with Notre Dame, UCLA and Stanford coming to Tempe. A step back is highly possible in 2014 but there is a lot of talent on the roster too.

Arizona 10/1 – Rich Rodriguez enters year three in the desert and comes off an 8-5 record and a bowl victory. Last year’s Wildcats surprised a few teams like Oregon and USC but lost to a few schools they probably shouldn’t have. Seven starters return on offense and six on the defense which was beaten up in conference play. The schedule features only two road games of note; at Oregon and at UCLA. The other three should provide wins. At home, the Wildcats get USC, Washington and Arizona State. I expect another eight win season in Tucson.

Utah 33/1 – Kyle Whittingham has a really strong 75-39 overall record entering his tenth season in the Beehive State. Six starters return on both sides of the ball as the Utes look to make a splash in the Pac-12 South. Utah faces a tough road schedule with trips to Michigan, UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford. I think the goal here for Whittingham and company is to get back to .500 and a bowl game but that road schedule worries me.

Colorado 50/1 – In year one, Mike McIntyre went just 4-8 but he gets eight starters back on both sides of the ball. The Buffaloes’ defense surrendered over 40 points in seven of their eight losses and three times gave up over 50. Colorado has just four road games and the neutral site rivalry game against Colorado State in Denver. Three of those four are brutal though as they travel to Oregon, Arizona and USC. I think six wins is the goal here and I think it’s very workable as well.

The Pick: Toss out Colorado and Utah right now as they just don’t have the horses. The wild-cards are the schools in the desert and the favorites are the schools from LA. I like the Bruins to take the Pac-12 South in 2014.

Who Makes the College Football Playoff? Here are Your Top Eight Favorites

CFB Trophy
CFB Trophy
This is the new championship trophy teams in college football are vying for in 2014.

After years of BCS nonsense we finally have gotten our wish. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a start at the very least. The 2014 college football season will culminate in a four-team playoff and our friends at Bovada have the odds.

Will ______ make the four-team playoff?

Florida State Yes -250, No +170 – The defending champions have Jameis Winston back but also have lots of guys to replace. The schedule features Oklahoma State in the opener at Dallas, a home date with Notre Dame and a road trip to Miami.

Alabama Yes -130, No -110 – The Crimson Tide have to replace A.J. McCarron who started for what seems like forever. Road games include LSU, Tennessee and a neutral site game against West Virginia. The home slate features Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn.

Mariota
Could Mariota lead the Ducks to the college football playoff this year? I say yes.

Oregon Yes +120, No -160 – Could this finally be the Ducks’ year? They have two road games that concern me; at UCLA and the finale at Oregon State. They get Big Ten Champion Michigan State at home and the same goes for Stanford, Arizona and Washington. With Marcus Mariota returning at QB, the Ducks could be in prime position.

Ohio State Yes EVEN, No -140 – The Buckeyes will benefit by being in the Big Ten East where they get newcomers Maryland and Rutgers which should be wins. Home dates include Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Indiana and Michigan. The road slate could be a problem as they open with an always troublesome Navy in Baltimore. They also must got to Penn State and Michigan State as well.

Oklahoma Yes +170, No -250 – The Sooners enter 2014 with high expectations following their huge Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. The schedule is favorable for a playoff spot with home games against Tennessee, Kansas State, defending Big 12 champ Baylor and rival Oklahoma State. The road slate features challenges in the Cotton Bowl against Texas, at Texas Tech and at TCU.

Auburn Yes +170, No -250 – The Tigers have a fairly favorable schedule with tough roads games only at Bama and Georgia. Auburn needs to replace studs like Greg Robinson, Tre Mason and Dee Ford.

LSU Yes +250, No -400 – The Bayou Bengals have what could be a brutal road schedule. They open with Wisconsin in Houston and then have road trips to Auburn, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Florida. They also have to replace Zach Mettenberger at quarterback too.

UCLA Yes +275, No -450 – Things are in place for a great run by the Bruins in 2014. They open at Virginia and their only other formidable road game is in Dallas against the Texas Longhorns. They get Oregon, Stanford, USC and Arizona at home. If this team stays healthy and survives some early road games then the sky is the limit.

When you look at this top eight, I think you throw LSU out immediately. Not because they are undeserving but because that schedule is just brutal especially for a team with a new quarterback regardless of his experience.

We have to expect that three of the four teams will probably enter with at least one loss. One or two unbeaten teams are possible. If that happens, it favors the SEC and Pac-12.

If I were you, I’d pencil in Oregon with their favorable schedule and Alabama because they’ll be able to survive one, maybe even two losses. Ohio State concerns me but they can survive a loss as long as it is to a ranked team who is having a good season. I’m still not overly confident in them though. FSU will make the playoff as long as Winston stays out of trouble.

From this list of eight, I will go with FSU, Bama, Oregon and Oklahoma with UCLA being a wild-card.

Breaking Down Thursday Night’s NCAA Hoops Action

Wilbekin
Wilbekin
The Florida Gators are led into the Sweet Sixteen by guard Scottie Wilbekin.

Here are the match-ups for the opening night of the Sweet Sixteen.

Florida (-4.5) vs. UCLA – The Gators have been college basketball’s most consistent team in my opinion all year and they once again showed why when they held Pitt to just 45 points to advance to the Sweet 16. The Florida defense ranks third in the country in defensive scoring and the challenge for the UCLA Bruins will be immense.

I think the Bruins’ success against the Arizona Wildcats in the Pac-12 tournament will serve them well against Florida because the Wildcats played excellent defense as well. My concern for Florida is whether they can score enough if the defense isn’t clicking. The Bruins rank 12th in the country in scoring so something will have to give in this game.

My gut feeling tells me this will be the one game that really challenges the Gators and should they come through it, the title could well be in reach. I like them to win, but I think its razor thin so take the Bruins getting the points.

Dawkins
Former Duke Standout Johnny Dawkins has Stanford playing extremely well entering their game with Dayton.

Dayton (+3) vs. Stanford – 11th seed Dayton takes on 10th seed Stanford in the only match-up of double-digit seeds in the tournament. The Flyers are the definition of “survive and advance” as they won their two tournament games by a grand total of three points over Ohio State and Syracuse.

Devin Oliver is the catalyst for Coach Archie Miller’s team. He leads in assists, rebounds and is second in scoring at 12 points per game.

The Cardinal hasn’t exactly had blowout wins in their first two games either. They’ve defeated New Mexico and Kansas by a total of eight points. Head Coach Johnny Dawkins seems to have his team peaking at the right time. Dayton has been a great story so far in this tournament but there’s a reason the Pac-12 has done decently. I like Stanford to cover and move on.

Baylor (+3.5) vs. Wisconsin – The Baylor Bears entered the NCAA Tournament as hot as almost any team and so far they’ve stayed that way. I have to believe this may be the most athletic team Wisconsin has seen in some time if not all season.

There’s no secret as to what the Badgers will be aiming to do on Thursday night. They will play excellent team defense, will rebound and will be patient and efficient on the offensive end of the court. Baylor cannot afford to get frustrated by the pesky Badgers who play a very ‘in-your-face’ style of defense.

The coaching match-up is fascinating with the veteran Bo Ryan and the rising coaching star in Scott Drew. ways concerns me with Coach Ryan is that he has teams that seem talented enough to get to the Final Four but they always seem to fall short. This is odd considering his four titles at lower levels of NCAA basketball.

I like Baylor getting the points because of their ability and athleticism but I always think the Badgers will miss being close to home as they were last weekend.

San Diego State (+6.5) vs. Arizona – These two West Coast teams actually hooked up once already this season. It was a 69-60 win for the Wildcats but it was way back on November 14th of 2013. Much has changed in that time for both teams in terms of player personnel, injuries and experience gained.

That was the Aztecs second game of the season and they wouldn’t lose again until February 22nd. I guarantee you that Arizona Head Coach Sean Miller is not overlooking this game in any way, shape or form.

The Wildcats will ride their defense which is ranked fifth in nation in points allowed. The Aztecs will counter with guard Xavier Thames who runs Coach Steve Fisher’s offense superbly. I really won’t be a bit surprised if SDSU pulls this out but I do like them getting the points in an overall victory for Arizona.

Oregon favored by Three Scores (-23.5) over UCLA on Saturday

Saturday night the UCLA Bruins head north to take on the Oregon Ducks in what is expected to be a high scoring affair. The Ducks have received a boost this week with the news, that all-purpose running back De’Anthony Thomas will return from injury. His presence in the backfield for Oregon will only add to the multiple threats the offense already has.

These two teams are two of the most profitable for bettors. Oregon enters the matchup No. 2 in the nation with a record of 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS. UCLA is ranked No. 12 and is 5-1 SU as well as ATS.

Both teams lost against the spread for the first time last week. The Ducks beat Washington State by the score of 63-28 but did not cover a spread of 40 points, while UCLA lost straight up to Stanford 24-10 as a 4.5-point underdog.

The game will match two of the country’s best dual threat quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota for Oregon and Brett Hundley for UCLA. Mariota has taken part in 28 touchdowns this season 19 passing and 9 rushing. Hundley has 16 – 13 passing and 3 rushing, but has played on less game.

The line currently has Oregon favored by a 23-point margin, with the point total for the over/under on 71.5. The line opened with the Ducks at -21.5 on most sites like topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com. However, it was bet up to its current -23 on most sites including Bovada by Wednesday afternoon and by Thursday up to -23.5.

Oregon is 4-0 SU and 2-2 ATS in their past four games against UCLA. However, last season the two did not play and in 2011, the Ducks won at home 49-31, but did not cover a spread of 31.5 points. The final points were over the total of 66.5.

The Bruins are 7-1 ATS over their past eight games after losing ATS. The Ducks are 6-2 ATS over their past eight games at home. The OVER has cashed 28-9-1 in the past 38 games overall for Oregon. Over the past 10 head-to-head meetings between the two schools, the underdog has a record of 7-3 ATS.

The Bruins offensive line has nagging injuries and has true freshmen at right tackle and right guard. Hundley was sacked at Stanford four times.

The UCLA defense is the best Oregon has faced, but the Ducks are scoring 57.6 points a game, which is second only to Baylor. The team slipped to third behind Florida State in the BCS rankings so they will want to come out and make a huge statement at the expense of UCLA.

Pick: The Ducks big 52-24

UCLA 6-Point Dog at Stanford

A great deal of attention has been placed this week on the ACC matchup between the No. 3 Clemson Tigers and No. 5 Florida State Seminoles. However, on the other side of the country in northern California a big Pac-12 matchup takes place on Saturday when the No. 13 ranked Stanford Cardinal hosts the No. 9 ranked UCLA Bruins.

Stanford is 5-1 SU and 2-4 ATS, while UCLA is 5-0 SU and ATS.

The current line in Bovada has Stanford as a 6-point favorite with the total on 54. The game opened with a -6 line for Stanford. The line was as high as -6.5 during the week, but some action on UCLA followed and the line was bet down on some books such as betonline and topbet to as low as -4.5.

Last season, the two teams played two games within seven days of one another. They met in the regular season finale and the in the championship game for the Pac-12. Stanford was victorious in both SU, although UCLA was able to cover in the second game.

Over the past five meetings between the two schools, the Cardinal is 4-1 ATS. The Bruins are 5-0 ATS in their last five games overall. The OVER has cashed five times out of the past six conference games for Stanford.

UCLA has been dominating in its first five games of the season. Brett Hundley, the starting quarterback is averaging over 9 yards per completion. Hundley has thrown 12 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. The Bruins rushing attack averages over 223 yards a game.

Defensively the Bruins are giving up only 18 points a game.

Hundley due to rushing and being pressured in the pocket has been hit as many times as any other quarterback in the nation. An injury to him would cause great concern for the coaching staff.

Stanford lost a tough game last week to the Utah Utes. Kevin Hogan, the starting quarterback, has had a great start to the season, with the exception of last week’s loss to Utah.

The Cardinal defense as well as special teams has been the team’s strength this season. Currently the defense is ranked No. 6 in defensive efficiency.

The Bruins have covered each game this season and defeated both Nebraska and Utah on the road.

The line is too big for Stanford to keep a tough team like UCLA from covering. The Bruins should win the game outright.

Pick: UCLA 27-20