Four Big Games for Saturday

Jug
Jug
Struggling Michigan hosts Minnesota in the battle for the Little Brown Jug.

Minnesota (+8) at Michigan (O/U 43) – The Little Brown Jug has taken up a pretty much permanent spot in the Michigan trophy case but if there were any year for the Gophers to get it back this might be it. The Wolverines are struggling offensively and Brady Hoke’s job is less than secure at the moment. One of two things is going to happen on Saturday; the Wolverines will rally around Hoke and play well or the status quo will exist.

The Gophers three wins are unimpressive and their lone loss was a beat-down at the hands of TCU.

Trends: Michigan has beaten Minnesota in nine of the last ten games they’ve played… The Gophers are 2-4 against the spread in their six games at Michigan… The Wolverines are 8-1 straight up in their last nine games at home against Minnesota… The total has gone UNDER in seven of the Gophers’ last eight games.

The Pick: I think Michigan finds a way to win but take the Gophers and the points. Take the UNDER as well.

Missouri (+6) at South Carolina (O/U 61.5) –

Bielema
Bret Bielema brings his Razorbacks to College Station where the Aggies await.

Arkansas (+10) at Texas A&M (O/U 72) – The Razorbacks are averaging 324 yards rushing per game and that’s been an Achilles’ heel for the Aggies in recent years. Since losing their opener at Auburn, the Hogs have ripped off three straight wins. The big question is whether or not Arkansas can slow down Kenny Hill and the Aggies offensive attack.

Bret Bielema will look to get his team running the ball to keep Hill off the field because he knows this offense will be much more talented than Texas Tech whom the Hogs defeated.

Trends: The Aggies are averaging almost 52 points per game in their last two contests against the Hogs… The total has gone OVER in all five of Arkansas’ most recent games… A&M is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against the Razorbacks… Arkansas is 3-10 straight up in their last 13 games.

The Pick: Take the Aggies to cover and take the OVER.

Stanford (-8) at Washington (O/U 47.5) – Last week, Washington hosted Georgia Southern and trailed 14-0 at halftime. They ended up winning 45-14. Perhaps the 4-0 Huskies needed a wake-up call?

The Cardinal come to Seattle at 2-1 and have a road trip to South Bend next week that they cannot afford to look ahead. This game will likely be decided by the Cardinal defense which has given up just ten points in three games.

The Pick: I like UW getting the points and I like the OVER.

Trends: The last time Stanford played at Washington they lost 17-13… The Huskies are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home against the Cardinal… The total has gone UNDER in four of Stanford’s last five games at Washington… The Huskies are 2-5 ATS in their last seven home games.

Florida State (-19) at North Carolina State (O/U 58.5) – Upset alert in Raleigh? The Seminoles have lost two straight at Carter-Finley Stadium. They get Jameis Winston back from suspension and are coming off an overtime win over Clemson.

The Wolfpack are unbeaten but haven’t exactly beaten anyone worth mentioning. Still, I believe this has the makings of a challenge for the ‘Noles.

Trends: Florida State is just 6-4 straight up in their last ten games against the Wolfpack… NC State is just 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games at home… The Seminoles are 1-5 ATS in their last six games at NC State… The total has gone UNDER in five of NCSU’s last six games at home against Florida State.

The Pick: Love NC State getting the points and take 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.

Huge College Games, ALCS Highlight Saturday Sports Action

Murphy
Murphy
How will Tyler Murphy handle the crazy crowd in the Death Valley?

It’s going to be really hard to avoid watching an SEC game today. The nation’s best football conference has been a heart specialist’s dream so far this season. Going back to Bama-A&M, LSU-Georgia and Georgia-Tennessee, the SEC has provided a number of high-scoring and heart attack inducing games.

Today looks like that very well may happen again. Florida goes into Death Valley to play LSU who is but a three-point loss from being unbeaten right now. With QB Jeff Driskel out for the season, how will QB Tyler Murphy handle the crowd in Baton Rouge?

Georgia could find itself in yet another shootout as 5-0 Missouri comes to Athens today. The Bulldogs have sustained some horrible injuries in the last couple of weeks but they continue to persevere. Both teams are scoring points at will so this could come down to who can get crucial stops and turnovers at the right time.

Out west, Oregon faces their stiffest test in a trip to Washington. The Huskies battled last week before finally losing by three points to Stanford. With D’Anthony Thomas questionable with an injury, the Ducks appear to be less than 100% which is why so many think the Huskies will pull the upset today in Seattle. I’m not sold on that.

What was once always the game of the day regardless of whom else was playing; Texas and Oklahoma meet in the Cotton Bowl to renew the Red River Rivalry. The game has certainly lost its’ luster with Texas struggling the way they are. In fact, there are many ‘Horns fans who are quietly hoping for a blowout in hopes that the loss would seal the fate of Mack Brown.

I expect Texas to fight hard today, but Oklahoma is once again playing great defense and has the threat of both the run and pass on offense. Texas’ fans may actually get their wish.

Lester
Lester takes the hill in game one of the ALCS against Detroit.

In Major League Baseball, the American League Championship Series gets underway tonight in Boston. The NLCS started last night with St. Louis getting a 3-2 win over Los Angeles.

The Tigers enter the ALCS off the spectacular pitching performance of Justin Verlander. While his regular season was very average by his standards, he has now pitched 15 straight innings without giving up a run in the playoffs. Dating back to September 15th, he hasn’t given up a run in that span either.

Boston will offer different challenges however because of their offense. Ranked number one in baseball, the Red Sox and Fenway Park will also create a tougher environment than the Tigers faced in Oakland. The two ballparks couldn’t be more different and Detroit will need to adjust.

With Verlander on rest and Max Scherzer scheduled for game two, Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland will go with Anibal Sanchez to oppose Tim Lester in game one. Sanchez was as dominant as any Tigers’ pitcher in the second half of the season but was roughed up by the Athletics in game three of the ALDS.

Lester went seven and two-thirds against Tampa Bay giving up just two earned runs in the Red Sox 12-2 win. Both of those runs came via the long ball which should concern Manager John Farrell a bit considering the Tigers penchant for going deep. Lester will need to keep the ball down and keep the hitters off balance.

Tigers’ third baseman Miguel Cabrera showed some signs of life hitting a huge two-run homer in the deciding game five in Oakland. It’s no secret he has been battling injuries.

Both teams can score runs, have good starting pitching and have very good closers. The difference I believe will be in the middle relief where the Sox have a clear advantage. This could go seven but I’ll take Boston.

Back Half of NFL’s Week Four Schedule Has Potential

Manning
Manning
Peyton Manning has been on fire and now the Eagles have to face him in Denver today.

There are many games on the docket today that offer interesting possibilities but I’m looking at the late games on the slate for some wagering action. This also happens to be the first week in which teams have their bye-weeks which if I were a fan or coach would drive me nuts having it this early. Either way, let’s get to the games.

Philadelphia (+11) at Denver -Chip Kelly and the Eagles bring their fast-paced offense to Denver to take on the top team in the National Football League in the Broncos. There was much ado about the Eagles after their fast-paced first half in the opener against the Redskins. Since then, they have been electric at times but have also struggled with turnovers.

Peyton Manning might be playing as well now as at any point in his hall of fame career and if the Eagles are giving the ball away that spells doom for Philly. The Eagles’ defense is 30th in the NFL and now they have to face Manning? While 11 points is a lot to give in the NFL, it isn’t enough today. The Eagles are 1-5 against the spread in their last six. Take the Broncos with confidence.

Dallas (-2) at San Diego – This line to me is nothing more than an over-reaction to the dominance of the Cowboys last week in their win over St. Louis. The Rams basically proved that with their pathetic performance on Thursday night. San Diego meanwhile is very close to being 3-0 on the season with a win over Philly and two last-second losses to Houston and Tennessee.

Tony Romo has looked good in recent weeks and part of that has been due to a better running game. He will look to take advantage of a San Diego defense that is ranked 31st in the NFL. The flip-side is that Philip Rivers also looks pretty good and perhaps as good as any time in his recent career. The Chargers are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home which worries me, but I really like the Chargers today.

Smith
Smith has done some good things but must cut down on the turnovers for the Jets to win in Tennessee today.

New York Jets (+3.5) at Tennessee – Each team has key players out today and several who are banged up yet will play. Both team are surprisingly 2-1 on the season and each could argue they should be 3-0. The Jets have ridden an outstanding defense which ranks third in the league while the Titans are pretty good as well ranking eighth.

So what will this game boil down to? Turnovers and special teams in my opinion. Even thought he Jets’ offense is significantly better than the Titans, the Jets are also -6 in the turnover department while the Titans are +5. Tennessee is also 4-1-1 in their last six games against the spread. Give the points and take the Titans.

Washington (-3.5) at Oakland – If you told me one of these teams would be 0-3 when they met in week four I would have without hesitation said Oakland. The Redskins enter with the worst defense in the NFL. They are struggling against both the run and the pass and are getting very little pressure on the quarterback.

Matt Flynn will get the start today for the Raiders due to a concussion to Terrelle Pryor. Flynn was very shaky throughout the preseason which is why they went with Pryor. I look for huge doses of the Raiders’ running game today. Washington enters with the third best offense in the NFL but that is very misleading as they have trailed in their first three games.

RGIII has looked better and better over each successive game, but he still isn’t himself in my opinion. I like this one to go down to the wire but I just can’t see the ‘Skins going 0-4. Take Washington.

0-2 NFL Teams; Playoff Shot or No?

Manning
Manning
If Eli Manning can eliminate the turnovers then I think the Giants have a great chance to recover from 0-2.

Over the last four seasons, 30 teams in the National Football League have started 0-2. Of those 30 teams, not a single one ended up making the playoffs. With that in mind, there are currently eight teams that still have a goose egg in the win column. Do any of these teams have a shot at break the current streak? Maybe… Here’s a look.

New York Giants – of all the teams currently sitting at 0-2 the G-Men might be in the best position to right this ship. Eli Manning has seven interceptions through two games and we know about the fumble issues of David Wilson, but despite those issues, the Giants were in both games against Dallas and Denver.

If the defense can get a little healthier and Manning can take care of the ball then I expect this team to make a serious run especially in a division that suddenly doesn’t look so tough.

Washington Redskins – RGIII is not RGIII and I don’t care what anyone tells me. He looks extremely tentative and is consistently throwing off of his back foot. That tells me his confidence level in the surgically repaired knee is not very high. Receiver Pierre Garcon suggested that the bulky knee brace is limiting him and could be right but either way, a third straight loss could send Griffin III to the bench for Kirk Cousins.

The other issue for the Skins is defensively where they have been torched by Michael Vick and Aaron Rodgers in consecutive weeks. If that doesn’t improve dramatically then they have no chance.

Minnesota Vikings – The Purple People-Eaters opened with two divisional games on the road and had chances to win both but failed. Other than his first run of the season, Adrian Peterson has been pretty well held in check. When that happens, the pressure falls on Christian Ponder who is just too darn inconsistent.

The Vikes will have opportunities to get back into the race with both Detroit and Chicago still having to visit the Twin Cities. If they can get Peterson going again then I like their chances.

Newton
Newton needs to find the form he had his rookie year and he needs to do it quickly.

Carolina Panthers – It’s amazing how razor-thin the line can be between a coach keeping or losing his job. Ron Rivera’s Panthers lost an extremely tough game to Seattle at home and then lost to Buffalo in the final seconds when someone in the secondary blew the coverage leaving the Bills’ Stevie Johnson wide-open.

For whatever reason, Cam Newton just hasn’t looked like the guy who set the NFL on fire in his rookie year. Despite the fact Tampa may be in similar trouble, four losses loom on the horizon with two games against Atlanta and New Orleans each. I don’t see it happening and that means so long Ron Rivera.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – This is already turning into a train wreck. Darrel Revis says he has issues with Head Coach Greg Schiano and Schiano has a QB that seems lost in a contract year. I really don’t see much hope for the Buccaneers rebounding.

Cleveland Browns – The Browns once again look pretty good on defense but the offense is just not good. It appears Brandon Weeden will miss this week with a sprained thumb so that means Jason Campbell who looked horrible in relief of Weeden on Sunday. Because the division is weak, I can’t rule them out but they need to get going now.

Pittsburgh Steelers – For the first time since 2002, the proud Steelers are 0-2 and this isn’t a case of losing a couple of close games to good competition. The offensive line is young and at times completely over-matched. Ben Roethlisberger has little if any time to throw and the running game has suffered without rookie Le’Veon Bell who is currently hurt to save it.

Because of a still good defense and Roethlisberger I give them a chance, but it’s a slim one simply because of how poor they have been offensively.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Do I really even need to comment here?

Making Some Sense of College Football’s First Saturday

Manziel
Manziel
Johnny Manziel's play was solid but his mouth and antics were the story.

College Football kicked off its’ first full Saturday of the 2013 season yesterday. In typical fashion there were big-time blowouts, games that went down to the final seconds and big individual performances. I’m going to do my best to break some of the key action down and give you something to think about moving forward.

Manziel Returns – The second half of yesterday’s Texas A&M-Rice game in College Station couldn’t come fast enough for Aggies’ fans. After sitting out the first half, Manziel threw three touchdown passes to rescue the Aggies from the Owls who were more than up to the challenge. Rice trailed by just seven at the half and by just 10 in the fourth quarter before A&M pulled away.

For the most part, Manziel looked much like himself yesterday but also looked like a complete jerk too. He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after getting into several smack-talking sessions with Rice players. I say kudos to the Owls who let Manziel know time and time again about his autograph allegations. They goaded Manziel into it and he got caught. Get used to it Johnny.

If I’m Kevin Sumlin though, I’m more concerned about the fact my defense got torched for over 500 yards by the Owls. If they can do that, what will SEC foes do to them?

Price
Price was excellent in a huge win over Boise State.

Whipping Out West – Lost in the East Coast bias that is college football was Washington’s 38-6 drubbing over #19 Boise State in Seattle. While I believe the win by the Huskies wasn’t totally shocking, the dominance in which they did it was.

Boise was seen as the BCS buster once again by many experts but that isn’t going to happen as the Broncos gave up over 550 yards of offense. Huskies’ quarterback Keith Price threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns while running back Bishop Sankey ran 25 times for 161 yards two scores. Washington is serving notice that they won’t be an easy out in the Pac-12 but they must be consistent to prove that.

FCS Serves Notice – On Friday night, defending Football Championship Subdivision Champion North Dakota State knocked off an FBS team for the second straight year when they scored with under a minute to play to beat Kansas State in Manhattan. Yesterday, Eastern Washington traveled to Corvallis, Oregon to play the 25th ranked Oregon State Beavers and the Eagles escaped with a wild 49-46 upset.

The two teams combined for 1,100 yards of offense with 635 of those yards rung up by the Eagles. Despite leading by double-digits at the half, EWU had to rally in the second half after the Beavers took the lead late in the game. Eagles’ QB Vernon Adams scored the game-winner with :18 remaining. Both Adams and OSU quarterback Sean Mannion were brilliant with both guys throwing for over 400 yards without an interception.

There was a time when any FCS team could play an FBS team and it wouldn’t have to worry about being beaten. Those days are long gone even for the FBS teams that are ranked.

Also from Saturday… Notre Dame and Michigan each did their part to enter next weekend’s showdown in Ann Arbor unbeaten. The Irish defeated Temple 28-6 while the Wolverines crushed Central Michigan 59-9… Nebraska held on late to defeat Wyoming 37-34 to keep the nation’s longest-active opening game winning streak alive. The number now stands at 28 straight opening victories. Virginia Tech has the record at 40 straight… Speaking of the Hokies, they were defeated by #1 Alabama last night in the Georgia Dome 35-10. Don’t let the score fool you though. The Bama offense mustered just 206 total yards while the Hokies had just 212. The Tide benefited from two Christion Jones returns for touchdowns (one punt and one kickoff).

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.

Monday’s NBA Betting Tips

The Grizzlies and Clippers will be involved in a knock down, drag out affair in Memphis on Monday night.

To get you off to the right start this week, Casino Review has taken a look at Monday’s NBA schedule and picked out the winners and losers for you. Let’s start in the Windy City.

 

Atlanta Hawks @ Chicago Bulls

8:00 PM ET

After putting together a solid run towards the end of 2012, Atlanta (21-15, 9-9 road) has come unglued over recent weeks, dropping six of eight games.

Chicago (20-15, 10-10 home) meanwhile continues to stay afloat in the Central division, eagerly awaiting the return of Derrick Rose. The Bulls have won four of the last six, including a pair of wins over conference toppers Miami and New York.

The Hawks defeated the Bulls 92-75 on Dec. 22 in Atlanta, and Chicago has gone 5-4 since. Surprisingly, the Bulls have fared better on the road (10-5) this season, and have dropped three of the last four at home. Atlanta may find it difficult to score a victory though, especially considering the side has lost four straight and five of six away from Philips Arena.

Odds: Chicago is favorites, with the spread at 5 and the total at 183½.

Take: CHICAGO – The Bulls are better defensively and the Hawks have had their fair share of struggles over the past two weeks, which should be enough for the Bulls to edge this one. Both Atlanta (14-21-1 ATS) and Chicago (13-21-1 ATS) have struggled against the spread this season, so you face a roulette wheel of opportunity here. Take Atlanta to cover (+5) in a close one. Take a low total (183½) to go under still.

 

Los Angeles Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies

8:00 PM ET

With a 3-3 tally since the end of a record-breaking 17-game win streak, the Los Angeles Clippers (28-9, 10-5 road) will look to start another win streak on Monday with a visit to Memphis (24-11, 14-4 home).

The Grizzlies have had a solid season and have fared very well at home, losing just four games, three to teams with winning records. The Clippers however handed the Grizzlies a 101-92 loss on opening day, although that came at Staples Center.

The Grizzlies have the second best defense in the league (89.7 PPG) and will be calling upon it to stop a Clippers side that ranks No. 7 in scoring (101.8 PPG).

Odds: Memphis is favored at home, just. The spread stands at 1½, with the total at 184½.

Take: LA CLIPPERS – Memphis (21-12-2 ATS) is the best team in the league at covering the spread. Before you put your money on the Grizzlies though, consider that the Clippers (22-15-0 ATS) are third best in the league, and have covered more times than Memphis. Take the Clippers to cover (+1½) and take an upset win outright. Take the total (184½) to go under as the Grizzlies’ tough defense goes to work.

 

Miami Heat @ Utah Jazz

9:00 PM ET

Miami (24-11, 8-8 road) defeated the Jazz 105-89 at AmericanAirlines Arena on Dec. 22, but as we all know, Miami on the road is a very different side to Miami at home. The Heat has gone 5-3 on the road against Western Conference opponents, but only 2-3 against those teams with a winning record.

Despite currently residing just outside the top eight in the Western Conference, Utah (20-19, 11-4 home) has been solid at home this season, dropping just four games, and all to quality opposition (Memphis, Golden State, Clippers twice).

Both sides will look at this game as one ripe for the taking. A win for Utah will keep the Jazz above the .500 mark, whilst Miami will look to move to 2-2 on this current six-game road trip.

Odds: Miami is favored despite an indifferent road record. The spread is 5½, while the total is 197½.

Take: MIAMI – Take the Heat to score a second straight road victory ahead of games at Golden State and the Lakers later this week. This will be a tough one though, so take Utah to cover the spread (+5½), something the Jazz has been slightly better at this season than the Heat. Take the total (197½) to go under, as has been the case in more than 54 percent of both team’s games this season.

 

Quick Picks…

Having beaten both Oklahoma City and Atlanta last week, take Washington (6-28, 5-13 home) to score an unprecedented third win in a row with a victory over Orlando (13-23, 6-11 road). Take the Wizards – the sixth best team in the league against the spread – to cover (-3½) with the total (193½) going over.

Take favorite Boston (19-17, 12-6 home) to upend Charlotte (9-27, 4-13 road) in the first of four meetings between the sides this season. At 10 points, the spread may seem big but Charlotte (13-22-1 ATS) is the worst team in the league at covering the spread, so take Boston here. Take the total (190½) to go over.

As Minnesota (16-18, 6-13 road) and Dallas (15-23, 9-7 home) both look to find their winning ways, take the Timberwolves to cover the spread (+5½) but the Mavericks to win outright. Take the total (197½) to go over.

Take Oklahoma City (29-8, 11-5 road) to make short work of Phoenix (13-26, 10-9 home), covering the spread (-7½) in the process. Take the total (202) to go under.

Finally, take Sacramento (13-24, 10-10 home) to complete a season sweep over Cleveland (9-30, 5-18 road) in what will be a close game. Take Cleveland to cover the spread (+5½), with the total (203½) going over.

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.