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.

Kick Off Your Bowl Season With These Opening Games

Leach
Leach
Mike Leach takes his 6-6 Cougars to the New Mexico Bowl where Colorado State awaits.

As I told you in the blog yesterday, I really do enjoy bowl season and I’m thrilled the time of year begins tomorrow with four games. I really like three of the four we have to choose from too. The action runs from early afternoon through the evening so you should have plenty of opportunities to catch some college football action. From the mountains in Idaho to the Superdome of New Orleans, the 2013 college bowl season is about to kick off.

Colorado State (+4.5) vs. Washington State – These two face off in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl and while it doesn’t sound like a big deal it is to a team like the Cougars. Under a coach like Mike Leach, improvement is expected and making a bowl game in year two is a step in the right direction. WSU started the season strong losing by just seven in the opener at Auburn and then knocking off USC in Los Angeles.

The Rams won five of their last seven and come in averaging 35 points per game. Normally when teams from non-AQ conferences play the big boys in bowl games they find themselves bigger underdogs. The four and a half does not fall into that category.

The over/under is 66 and that’s proof both of these teams can score so go with the over. Five of CSU’s last seven games have gone the way of the over for that matter. I like the experience of Leach and the schedule toughness of the Cougars so take them to cover.

Carr
Can Derek Carr lead Fresno State past USC in the Las Vegas Bowl?

Fresno State vs. USC (-7) – The Trojans enter the Las Vegas Bowl as a touchdown favorite over the Bulldogs who have no problem scoring. The issue for them is that the USC defense will probably pose one of their stiffer tests this season. QB Derek Carr had the Bulldogs in position to possibly qualify for a BCS game but lost a shootout in the Mountain West Title game.

When you think of the Trojans’ season it begins with the firing of Lane Kiffin ends with the hiring of Steve Sarkisian. He replaces interim coach Ed Orgeron who many felt deserved the job. With news breaking last night about a possible recruiting scandal at Sarkisian’s last job in Washington, maybe Orgeron should keep his USC resume on hand.

Both teams have seen their games go with the under in five of their last seven and I think that’ll be the case here as well. Because the Trojans started moving the ball and scoring more later in the season I think that bodes well for them and I like them to cover.

Buffalo vs. San Diego State (-1.5) – The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl once again comes to us from the smurf turf of Boise State which will match well with the blue of Buffalo. The Bulls finished second in the MAC East this season blowing an opportunity to play in the MAC Title game by losing at home in the final week. Buffalo doesn’t do anything outstanding but they’ll be a challenge for the Aztecs.

SDSU won seven of their last nine games after opening with three straight losses. Like the Bulls, they don’t do anything special but they do play good, hard football. The Aztecs have gone over in four of their last five games while the Bulls are over in eight of their last 12. The over/under has dropped from 55 to 51 which makes me like the over in this one.

I also like the Aztecs getting the one and a half.

College and Pro Football on Tap Tonight

Tannehill
Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins need to stop the bleeding but will it start with the Bengals tonight?

Pro Football on the Southeast corner of the US and college football on the Northwest corner of the country highlight two games I’m looking at for your wagering options.

Cincinnati (-3) at Miami – Last we left the Cincinnati Bengals; they were dropping a 49-9 butt-kicking on the New York Jets in Paul Brown Stadium. This is of course the same Jets’ team that a week prior beat the New England Patriots and the week before that lost at home to a down Pittsburgh Steelers’ team.

Therefore, what do we take from the Bengals? For starters, this is a team that is now 6-2 and already has a firm grasp on the AFC North which vying to be the NFL’s worst division in 2013. This is also a team that has won four straight including a really big road win in Detroit prior to their beat down of the Jets.

Quarterback Andy Dalton is playing as well as he has during his three-year career. He threw five touchdown passes against the Jets and made it look pretty easy at the same time.

What will be interesting with Cincinnati is to see how the defense reacts to having lost linebacker Ray Maualuga for the next three to four weeks with a knee sprain. He’s played very well in 2013. The team also learned this week that safety Taylor Mays was going on the Injured Reserve list with a bad shoulder.

The strength of the Bengals’ defense is undeniably their front seven which gets great pressure and stops the run, so more may be asked of them in Maualuga’s absence.

For Miami, a short week might be the best medicine to cure their “Patriots’ Hangover.” The Dolphins led 17-3 into the second half in Foxboro before succumbing to the Pats 24-17. That 3-0 start down in South Beach now seems like forever ago as the Fins have lost four-straight.

A big part of the problem has been a lack of consistency in running the ball. Miami ranks just 23rd in the NFL with about 89 yards rushing per game. Often thought to be the strength of the team, the defense is suddenly lacking in firepower as well. They are giving up almost 30 points a game in those four losses and are getting beaten both on the ground and through the air.

This game clearly has a lot more impact for the Dolphins than it does for the Bengals but Cincinnati is streaking in one direction while the Dolphins are headed in the complete opposite. Take the Bengals to cover even on the road.

Graham
Graham's Sun Devils are torching scoreboards in the Pac-12 right now.

Arizona State (-12) at Washington State – If you’ve been lulled to sleep by Pac-12 powers Oregon and Stanford in recent weeks who could blame you? In their shadow is lurking the Sun Devils who are quietly leading the weaker, yet respectable Pac-12 South Division. They are averaging over 45 points per game and are fresh off a win at home over Washington where they laid 53 on the Huskies.

Now ASU travels north to play Washington State. The Cougars sit at 4-4 and boast an offense under Mike Leach that has no problems passing the football. They rank 6th with over 383 yards passing per game while the rushing attack is the complete opposite. They rush for just 58 yards per good which is good for 123rd in the nation.

The Sun Devils need to be careful here. They are not going to have any problems scoring points against the Wazzau, but they should expect a shootout either way. The over/under is 71 and I’m all over the ‘over’ here. I do suggest however, you take the Cougars and the points. I expect a lot of points and I can see Washington State keeping it close.

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: Friday Games

LSU will look to hoist the Golden Boot for the second consecutive season Friday as it takes on Arkansas.

Welcome to Rivalry Week!

Once you’re done with the turkey, stuffing and NFL games, get ready for an absolute doozy of a week in College Football. As well National Championship implications, Week 13 is home to no fewer than 19 rivalry games, any of which could see an upset victory for an upstart team.

To get you in the mood, CasinoReview brings you an overview of those games that will take place on Friday night. Once you’re done here, be sure to come back on Friday for some College Football betting tips, before we take a closer look at those Saturday rivalry games on, well, Saturday.

 

Arizona State @ #24 Arizona (“Duel in the Desert”)

After a solid start to the season from both schools, #24 Arizona (7-4, 4-4 Pac-12) and Arizona State (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) have fallen off the pace as conference play has taken a hold of the schedule. Now the only thing to separate the two will be this matchup. The Wildcats will look to lift the Territorial Cup for a second consecutive season.

Favorite: Arizona Spread: 3 Total: 68.5

 

#7 LSU @ Arkansas

Not only will #7 LSU (9-2, 5-2 SEC) look to take home the Golden Boot on Friday night, but a win will keep the school’s slim hopes of a place in the SEC Championship Game alive. The Tigers will need a win from Texas A&M and a loss for Alabama. Meanwhile, Arkansas (4-7, 2-5 SEC) will look to wind up a (very) disappointing season by playing spoiler.

Favorite: LSU Spread: 13.5 Total: 51

 

Utah @ Colorado (“Rumble in the Rockies”)

Colorado (1-10, 1-7 Pac-12) has had a season to forget (to say the least) but a win over rival Utah (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) would at least be something to smile about as the season comes to a close, particularly as the Buffaloes also lost to Colorado State to open the season. Utah haven’t fared much better this season. The Utes are 1-1 in rivalry games this season, having lost to Utah State and beaten BYU early in the season.

Favorite: Utah Spread: 23 Total: 53

 

#14 Nebraska @ Iowa

Not only is the Heroes Trophy on the line but so are Nebraska’s (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) hopes of going to the Big Ten Championship Game next weekend. A win over the Hawkeyes will book the Cornhuskers’ place. A loss, coupled with a Michigan win, will prematurely end Nebraska’s season. Meanwhile, Iowa (4-7, 2-5 Big Ten) will look to break the Cornhuskers’ four-game winning streak in the head-to-head as well as a five-game losing streak this season.

Favorite: Nebraska Spread: 14.5 Total: 53

 

#25 Washington @ Washington State

Washington State (2-9, 0-8 Pac-12) can get its first conference win of the season by knocking off #25 Washington (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12) on Friday night, taking home the Apple Cup in the process. As far as solitary wins in a season go, that would be worth writing home about. The Huskies will have other ideas though, and will feel confident riding a three-game winning series winning streak – and a four-game winning streak this season – into the game. The Apple Cup for a Washington side that has impressed at times this season.

Favorite: Washington Spread: 10.5 Total: 51

 

Remember to check back on Saturday for CasinoReview’s rundown of the top rivalry games set to take place on Saturday. Expect news on the Iron Bowl and the Civil War, as well as Florida’s trip to Florida State and USC hosting  #1 Notre Dame.

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.

Pac-12 Not Doing Itself Any Favors

The Huskies' win over Stanford has cast some serious shadows over the Pac-12's National Championship hopes.

Thursday night’s 17-13 loss to Washington has cast a cloud over not only #8 Stanford and its chances of being selected to play in the BCS National Championship Game, but also the Pac-12’s chances as a conference.

For a conference that was considered the only viable competition to the dominant SEC ahead of the season, things are looking less than clear now.

Decoding the Pac-12

Just two weeks ago, the Cardinal upset USC, denting the Trojans’ own chances of going to the Championship Game. In the process, Stanford staked a claim to be the team that would head to Miami Gardens in January. Admittedly, it was a loose claim. Stanford after all struggled to beat San Jose State in Week 1.

Ahead of Week 4, UCLA looked to be putting their names forward for consideration, but a loss to Oregon State suggested that it’s a little too early to consider the Bruins as serious contenders.

Oregon State meanwhile has gone 2-0 with two wins over ranked opposition. Not a bad start. But can the Beavers keep that pace up? Probably not, although oddsmakers have slashed odds of a BCS championship from 500/1 in the preseason to 75/1 this week.

So that leaves Oregon. Having been considered second fiddle to USC during all of the preseason, the Ducks are now considered the Pac-12’s best chance for a national title. Preseason odds of 10/1 have steadily shortened to 13/2 heading into this week’s action.

The Ducks have looked solid so far this season, averaging close to 53 points per game. But critics could argue that Oregon has yet to play anybody of merit. Sure, they defeated Arizona 49-0 last week, but Arizona’s inclusion on the AP poll was less than solidified. Had the likes of Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska played better this season, it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats appearing on that list.

For Oregon, the big challenge comes on November 3, with a visit to USC. That is of course if the Ducks can get by Washington next week. A loss to the Cougars would effectively write off National Championship hopes this year.

Week 5 Pac-12 Schedule

After Washington’s upset win over Stanford, here’s what else is on tap this Saturday. Both USC and Utah are on a bye week.

Arizona State (3-1, 0-1 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ California (1-3, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

4:00 PM ET / 1:00 PM PT

The Sun Devils will be looking to continue their strong start to the season with a win over a struggling Golden Bears team. Arizona State currently leads the South division by way of USC’s loss to Stanford and Arizona’s loss to Oregon. Still, the team opened as underdogs in this one, before odds flipped in their favor. The Sun Devils are currently narrow favorites (-1) with the over/under set at 58. There’s certainly money to be made on this game.

UCLA (3-1, 1-0 road, 0-1 Pac-12) @ Colorado (1-3, 0-2 home, 1-0 Pac-12)

6:00 PM ET / 3:00 PM PT

A loss to Oregon State last week saw UCLA’s two week tenure in the AP Polls come to an end. A win against Colorado this week could, but probably won’t, see the Bruins return to the rankings. UCLA enters the game as favorites (-21) and are expected to make easy work of a Colorado team that has looked poor this season. Only a 35-34 win over Washington State last week prevented the Buffaloes from starting the season 0-4. The over/under is 60, with UCLA expecting to accumulate most of those points.

#18 Oregon State (2-0, 1-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Arizona (3-1, 3-0 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:00 PM ET / 7:00 PM PT

Arizona enjoyed two weeks in the AP Poll before losing big to Oregon last week. Oregon State may have only played two, but the Beavers have knocked off two ranked teams (Wisconsin, UCLA) and is sitting pretty heading into this game.

Oddsmakers have the Wildcats as favorites (-3) heading into this one, so they’ve yet to be bowled over by the Beavers’ performances. This games figures to be a close one. The over/under is 61. A win for Arizona will see the Wildcats flirting with the AP poll once again. A win for Oregon State will cement the team’s AP approved credentials.

#2 Oregon (4-0, 0-0 road, 1-0 Pac-12) @ Washington State (2-2, 1-1 home, 0-1 Pac-12)

10:30 PM ET / 7:30 PM PT

Whether Oregon remains the Pac-12’s last remaining hope against the dominance of the SEC remains to be seen. This week the Ducks head out on the road for the first time. Despite the travel north, Oregon are big favorites (-32) over the Cougars. The over/under is 74. Oddsmakers are expecting this to be a high-scoring one-sided affair, just like Oregon’s previous four.

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

Baseball and College Football Kick Start Exciting Weekend

 

Ahead of the weekend’s busy NCAA and NFL football schedules, Friday night provides bettors with some captivating matchups. We start with the race for the American League Wild Card, a contest that continues to get closer by the day, before heading to Vegas for a college football teaser.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays @ New York Yankees

Tampa Bay's trip to New York this weekend could have huge implications in the races for both the AL East title and the vacant Wild Card places.

Tampa Bay (77-66, 39-32 road) arrives in New York on the back of Thursday afternoon’s 14-inning epic against Baltimore. The Rays came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline, losing a third-straight against the Orioles. They now sit four games out of the second Wild Card place, behind Oakland, New York, Baltimore and Los Angeles Angels.

The Yankees (81-62, 40-34 home) arrive home from a 5-5 road trip that concluded with a 2-0 win in Boston last night. It was the first time in close to a month that the Yankees had recorded back-to-back wins. The win was enough to keep pace with the Orioles at the top of the AL East, after the Birds’ win earlier in the day.

Tampa has had New York’s number this season, winning 9 of 15. New York though has gone 4-2 against the Rays at the Stadium. Home advantage could well play a part not just tonight but throughout the weekend.

Both teams send their aces to the mound on Friday as David Price (17-5, 2.54 ERA) faces C.C. Sabathia (13-5, 3.56). Sabathia took the win when he faced Price in New York on May 10. Price beat Sabathia, again in New York, on June 7.

Sabathia and New York start as favorites with the moneyline reading -130 (New York) and +110 (Tampa Bay). The over/under is set at 8 runs. Take New York, both to beat the spread and win straight up, whilst going with the under.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles @ Oakland Athletics

Baltimore's epic win over Tampa on Thursday could hinder any chances of defeating Oakland on Friday night.

Baltimore (81-62, 39-30 road) makes the long trip to the West Coast after Thursday afternoon’s marathon victory over the Rays. Oakland (82-61, 45-26 home) fell to the Angels Thursday and will be looking to bounce back from the rare defeat.

Baltimore has held its own in the race for the AL East and a Wild Card berth but Oakland has been otherworldly. The team is 56-26 (.683) since June 10, and has only lost 15 games since the All-Star break.

Both teams send LHPs to the mound. For Baltimore, former-D’Back Joe Saunders (8-11, 4.22) will start. He’s 2-1 since joining the Orioles with a 4.24 ERA. Tom milone (12-10, 3.90) goes for the A’s. He’s limited opponents to two runs or less in three of his last four starts.

The A’s are -1.5 favorites with a +145 to beat the spread and +145 to win straight up. It’s hard to see a tired Baltimore team that has traveled 3,000 miles with a beat-up bullpen getting much out of this one. Put your money on Oakland. The 7.5-point over/under could really go either way. If it goes over, it’ll be because of Oakland’s bats, not Baltimore’s. Let’s say a tentative over.

NCAAF: Washington State @ UNLV

Washington State QB Jeff Tuel is unlikely to start, but the Cougars are still 8-point favorites as they visit UNLV.

Away from baseball, get ready for NCAA football on Saturday by taking a look at this Friday night (9 PM ET) fixture.

Washington State (1-1, 0-1 road) heads to Sam Boyd Stadium to take on UNLV (0-2, 0-2 home). UNLV has had a disappointing start to the season and will be looking for a home win at the third time of asking. For the record, the Rebels open the season with four straight at home.

After being dismissed by a Brigham Young side on its way to the AP rankings, the Cougars notched a victory over Eastern Washington last weekend. The Pac-12 side enters the game as 8-point favorites. Take the road team to beat the spread and win outright, while taking the under at 55.5 points.

 

That’s it. You’re all set. Friday’s night’s action should get you well and truly in the mood for Saturday’s full slate of college football and Sunday’s NFL action. Of course, Major League Baseball continues all weekend with some vital matchups.

If you’re looking for something interesting in each, go ahead and give these a try:

NCAAF:  (Saturday, 8 PM ET) #20 Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0 road) @ #10 Michigan State (2-0, 1-0 home)

NFL: (Sunday, 1 PM ET) Baltimore Ravens (1-0, 0-0 road) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-0, 0-0 home)

MLB: (Friday – Sunday) St. Louis Cardinals (76-68, 33-39 road) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (74-70, 38-34 home)

Each of these fixtures is rife with importance and promises to be a close encounter worth testing oddsmakers’ lines over the weekend.