Thursday, October 30, 2014
Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets, Oct. 30 - Nov. 3
Boston College over VA TECH by 3
Our MIDWEEK ALERT informs us that the Eagles hit Blacksburg on this first Saturday in November with the better overall offense, the better rushing attack and the stingier defense. And ‘better’ yet – we find them on the right side of the page (i.e. dogs). That’s a combination we can’t pass up. Yes, we realize that Beamer’s boys will be looking for payback after dropping a 34-27 decision last season in Chestnut Hill but we also know that Eagles’ HC Steve Addazio is 4-0 SUATS as a dog versus a foe with revenge. And, yes, we’re well aware that the 4-4 Hokies – like in 2012 – still need two wins in their final four games to extend a 21-year bowl streak
under Frank Beamer. The Gobblers may have to find one of those wins at either Duke in two weeks or at home in its season finale against Virginia (the one at Wake Forest is a given) as we can’t see an offense that has been held to two meaningless touchdowns (both late 4th-quarter scores) in its last two games doing any damage against B.C.’s 8th-ranked stop-unit. An easy take as we may find ourselves in an Eagles’ nest come this ‘Midweek.’
AUBURN over Ole Miss by 4
Jaybird The Bulldog, our SEC scout, is living in high cotton these days. He’s enjoyed five good weeks in a row and has somehow emerged unscathed from the pointspread minefield known as the Southeastern Conference. Because of this success, we asked if he might have any tips for our readers regarding seldom-discussed topics like money management. “You know what I think of when I hear the words ‘money management’?” Jay said. “I’m going to pick out the best game on the board, then bet all the money I can manage to get hold of – and look to make a mint! That’s what I call money-manage-mint.” Okay, let’s forget about extraneous discussion and concentrate on this latest heavyweight slugfest in the SEC West. “Let me tell you,” he continues, “Ole Miss had their hearts ripped out at Death Valley last week. The Rebels’ pride and joy, their defense, ran out of gas and gave up a 13-play, 95-yard touchdown drive to lose the lead. Then, when they still had a shot at tying things up with a field goal, Mississippi lost 5 yards on a delay of game penalty… and decided to air it out instead. Bo Wallace got picked – game over. I don’t see how they’ll recover from that in a week.” Neither does our database, which points to the arrival of the dreaded ‘Bubble-Burst’ scenario for previously unbeaten Ole Miss. Our SMART BOX also likes the Tigers as a ‘Puttin’ On The Stats’ underdog, a recommendation that works quite well with Auburn’s recent 4-1 SUATS series domination and its 6-2 ATS success as a conference dog of 7 or fewer points. Mississippi may be reeling but the Rebs don’t show up empty handed, boasting a solid 7-1 ATS mark when playing with conference revenge. Second straight time in this series that Aubbie’s been a dog (Ole Miss laid 2 points last year in a 30-22 loss) but we don’t mind, not with Malzahn sitting pretty in this week’s TRIVIA TEASER on page 2. So does Jaybird think the Rebels could lose outright in consecutive weeks? “Remember what General George S. Patton once said? All glory is fleeting.” Sounds like a take to us.
INDIANA over Michigan by 3
Where there’s Hoke, there’s fire. The Bunsen burner is set on ‘scorch’ in Ann Arbor these days as last week’s no-show in East Lansing was inexcusable. Don’t worry Michigan fans, we’ll ‘spear’ you all the gory details! But what we won’t leave out is the fact that the Wolves are dancing to a 2-10 SU record in their last 12 games versus .400 or greater opposition, including 0-3 SUATS as a favorite of 3 or more points. Sure, Brady’s bunch can hang their hats on a defense that has held six of eight foes to season-low – or 2nd low – yards this season, but that does little for a team averaging less than 16 PPG against fellow FBS opponents this campaign. Especially against a veteran, high-powered Hoosiers’ attack that ranks 33rd in the nation in total offense and is anxious to snap a six-year bowl drought (they’ll need to win three of their final five games to do that). Aside from the fact that we despise Homecoming chalk, our best guess is that this alumni affair will not be well attended – especially after the Maize-and-Blue supporters get a gander at The Clincher: 17 returning-starter underdogs with a sub .500 record (Indiana) off a pair of ATS losses are 33-6 ATS since 1990 when seeking revenge.
San Diego over Miami by 10
The Chargers bolt from Southern California to South Florida in this west-meets-east AFC showdown on Sunday. The coast-to-coast travel factor may not suit San Diego but if there is one team that has been able to overcome the early starts for left coast teams in east coast time zone games, it’s the Chargers, who are 6-2 SU and ATS in their last eight visits to eastern time zone cities, including 5-1 SUATS as dogs (see visit to Buffalo earlier this year). In fact, San Diego is 11-2 ATS from Game Six out away versus AFC East opponents, including 5-0 ATS with revenge. Meanwhile, Miami enters off an ‘inside-out’ win over the Jaguars (won the game but lost the stats) and has now been outyarded in four of its last six contests. They are also 2-14 ATS as home chalk between away games. The Dolphins upset the Chargers here as 3-point dogs last season in a game that saw Diego win the stats, 435-343. The bottom line is Miami’s last three wins have come against foes that are currently 4-19, while the Chargers’ losses this season have come against opponents that are 10-4 on the season. Back the better team as the dog here today. The Clincher: San Diego head coach Mike McCoy is 12-3-1 ATS (7-0 ATS last seven) in his NFL career against non-division teams, including 6-0 SUATS when facing .666 or greater opposition.
BALTIMORE OVER PITTSBURGH by 13
We’re not sure what was worse: being a Colts fan having to suffer through Pittsburgh’s 639 yard, 51-point outburst in a 17-point Indianapolis loss at Heinz Field? Or having to watch the Steelers for three and half hours while wearing their gaudy chain-gang convict throwback uniforms? We say toss that prison garb ASAP, thank you. Then again, you could have had the Ravens on your ticket last week, only to watch them gift-wrap a 3-point loss against the Bengals. All of which sets the table for this prime time Sunday night affair. It also sends remembrances of the Eagles and their ‘One Of These Nights’ hit tune playing in our head, an oldie from Marc’s 2013 Black Book as it tells us to ‘play against’ NFL home teams on Sunday nights if they are off back-to-back SU wins. That’s because these teams are 5-13 SU and 4-13-1 ATS in division games since 2006, including 2-7 SU and 1-8 ATS when off a pair of ATS wins. That’s music to our ears next to the Black-and-Gold’s 1-10 ATS mark on Sunday nights – including eight straight losses since 1997 – when playing off a SU
win versus an opponent off a SUATS loss. And if that doesn’t do it, there’s always The Clincher: NFL teams at home in the 3rd of three straight home games off back-to-back SU wins are 3-15 ATS when facing a division opponent off a SU loss.
Written by John Pricci
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets, Oct. 23 to Oct 27
COLORADO over UCLA by 1
A victim of their own success – 10-3 SU and 9-4 ATS in 2013 – the underachieving Bruins have been major money burners this season, bringing a 1-6 ATS mark into this contest. Highly-touted QB Brett Hundley has regained his aim since a Heisman-killing 48-yard passing performance against Texas in mid-September but the defense has gone into early hibernation, giving up 106 points in its last three games (1-2 SU). Who can forget UCLA head coach Jim Mora’s heated sideline argument with DC Jeff Ulbrich while Oregon put up 42 points in the Rose Bowl two weeks ago? Hey, the visitors’ 7-14 road chalk mark in their last 21 Pac-12 games does not look promising... nor does their 5-14-1 ATS mark, including 0-6-1 ATS as favorites of more than 6 points, in games after facing California. We won’t even mention that the Blue-and-Gold are just 1-6 ATS in games before facing their next opponent, Arizona! Colorado’s scoreboard results may not show it but the Buffs have improved by leaps and bounds in their third season under HC Mike MacIntyre, gaining 99 YPG more
on offense while yielding 34 YPG less on defense this season compared to last. Ralphie also gets the job done as a conference home dog of 14 or fewer points off back-to-back SU losses, going 9-4 SU and 10-3 ATS, and MacIntyre chips in with a 4-1-1 ATS effort against foes allowing 18.5 or more points per game. With Ralphie’s herd averaging a stout 31 PPG, we look for the Bruins to reach a Rocky Mountain low this afternoon in Boulder. To put the wraps on this bear trap, Marc’s ‘ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG’ system from the 2011 Black Book conveys The Clincher: College football road favorites off a win in which they allowed 30 or more points, who allow more than 29 PPG and 4.0 or more Yards Per Rush on the season, are 5-25-1 ATS in this role since 1980.
Texas over KANSAS ST by 3
Bill Snyder’s crew fi nds themselves as the leaders at the top of the Big 12 standings at 3-0, but it’s safe to say that KSU didn’t beat Oklahoma – the Sooners simply beat themselves. All-American kicker Michael Hunnicutt suffered through a nightmare, missing a 32-yard FG in the fi rst half, seeing the tying PAT blocked early in the final period, and with 3:53 to play, snell-hooking the potential game-winning FG from 19 yards out. The Wildcats then ran out the clock by converting two critical first downs. But it wasn’t all Hunnicutt’s fault as Oklahoma was outstatted 533-385 and committed five turnovers to KSU’s none. So now that we have
completely downplayed Kansas State’s biggest win of the season, we’ll also point out that they are looking at an Oklahoma State revenger on deck, putting the Wildcats dead in the middle of an Okie sandwich (we usually order that one medium-rare). But the simple fact is the Longhorns are improving with each game, and their offensive yardage has increased in each of the last five contests in a row. Sophomore QB Tyrone Swoopes is finally finding his footing: he engineered the final drive against Iowa State, setting up the winning field goal by completing two long passes to Jaxon Shipley and John Harris after the Cyclones had tied the game with 28 seconds left. But here’s The Clincher: UT head coach Charlie Strong is 20-8 SU and 21-7 ATS away from home, including 13-0 ATS versus .666 or greater opponents. GA TECH over Pitt by 3 Is it time for Georgia Tech HC Paul Johnson to spend a little more time with his defense? The Yellow Jackets have now out-yarded each of their last two opponents by 100-plus yards – only to lose both games on the scoreboard. Lord knows Johnson has tinkered with that run-Forrest-run offense of his for so long that it always ranks near the top of the nation in rushing (the Wreck rambles for 305 RYPG, 5th best in college football this season) but a defense that gets ripped for a ridiculous 5.3 yards per rush needs to be repaired immediately. This week the Tech juggernaut will get a stiff test against a Pittsburgh stop-unit that’s yielding only 111 YPG rushing and 279 YPG total. The Panthers also logged a few extra days of rest after snapping a 3-game losing skid with their home dog win here last Thursday night versus Virginia Tech. But those facts don’t give us a complete picture of this matchup as our mean machine notes that coach Johnson stands 15-5 ATS as a road dog versus sub .666 opposition, and that the Panthers own a dreadful 1-7 ATS mark in their last eight tries as pick or favorites. And if the Pitt defense can’t slow Tech’s ground attack (GT rushed for 276 yards in last year’s meeting), the black cats are in big trouble: they’re an awful 2-28 ATS as chalk in games where they allow 195 or more rushing yards. Hey, that’s enough to make us think two Techs in a row will be one too many for Pittsburgh.
Philly over Arizona by 11
Don’t look now but the NFL team with the best record since the start of the second half of the season last year has been: the Eagles at 12-3. And the team with the 2nd best record over the same span is none other than the Cardinals at 11-3! Take that, Denver and Seattle! Ironically, one of Arizona’s three defeats came at the hands of Philadelphia in a 24-21 loss at Lincoln Financial Field on the 1st of December. And today, despite losing games by an average of -40 YPG this season, the Cardinals sit atop the rugged NFC West looking down on the 49ers and the Seahawks. Meanwhile, the Eagles reside a half-game back of the resurgent
Cowboys in the NFC East behind an offense that ranks No. 2 in scoring offense. More importantly, Philly is 7-3 SU away under head coach Chip Kelly, including 6-2 ATS when not favored by more than 3 points. And that revenge aspect we noted earlier for the Cardinals – forget about it – as Zona is a miserable 4-18 ATS at home with a .500 or greater record when seeking single-revenge. However, as we’ve come to learn, it’s the wisdom of the database that steps front and center with The Clincher: NFL teams off a Bye Week who tossed a shutout in their previous game are 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS when facing an avenging non-division foe, including 5-0 SUATS if the opponent is off a SU win of 6 or more points in its last game.
Kansas City over St. Louis by 14
It’s a debate as to which of these teams posted a more impressive win last week – the Rams in their stunner over the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, or the Chiefs in their takedown of the division-leading Chargers. For our money, and after looking at the stat sheet, it had to be the latter given KC’s +114 total yard effort as opposed to Louie’s -191 total yard deficit. Regardless, our well-oiled machine is first in line to report that teams who manage to knock off defending Super Bowl champions are just 19-39 ATS away versus .500 or greater foes in their next outing, including just 10-31 ATS as a dog if they were a dog against the champs. The Rams’ 0-5 ATS mark in games after scoring 21 or more points against Seattle is certainly noteworthy. As is KC’s 7-0 ATS record at Arrowhead off a division battle when hosting an NFC West opponent, along with its 5-0 SUATS mark in this series since 1997. The all-knowing machine provides The Clincher: NFL teams in the middle of a classic division sandwich (non-division game off a pair of division games with a pair of division games on deck) are 9-23 ATS since 1980 when off a SU underdog win, including 0-6 ATS if they allowed more than 24 points in the win.
Written by Marc Lawrence
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Marc Lawrence College and Pro Upsets, Oct. 16-20
NORTH CAROLINA over Georgia Tech by 6
Despite a monumental effort in last week’s 50-43 loss to Notre Dame in South Bend, USA Today Sports has still picked North Carolina as 2014’s biggest disappointment: “After tabbing UNC as a potential ACC and major bowl contender – again – perhaps we’ve all learned our lesson.” Okay, we’ll admit the Tar Heels have failed to git ‘er done under HC Larry Fedora but if anyone’s going to be down in the dumps at Chapel Hill today, our vote goes to the Bumble Bees. Thanks to three huge turnovers in their loss to Duke (Tech had turned the ball over just four times in their fi rst fi ve games), the Jackets are an offi cial ‘Bubble Burster’ (5-0 or greater perfect season ruined in a straight-up favorite loss) and we’re not going to try an revive them. Meanwhile, the 2-4 Tar Heels fi nd themselves in an eerily similar situation to last year when they posted five consecutive SU wins after a 1-5 start to qualify for the Belk Bowl. Fedora owns a stylish 5-1 ATS mark versus a foe off a SU favorite loss and his Heels have gone 4-0 ATS of late as home dogs versus an .800 or better opponent. No doubt the visitors will get their yards as Paul Johnson’s spread-option offense should move the ball against a UNC ‘D’ allowing 192 rushing YPG but with the Wreck now 1-4 ATS in the first of back-to-back road games – plus 2-7 ATS after dealing with Duke – we’ll look for Carolina to fully awaken from its season-long slumber and take a big step toward becoming bowl eligible. Whether the spread is pick, plus or even minus, we’re sticking with the Tar Heels.
ARIZONA STATE over Stanford by 10
The Sun Devils had an extra week to bask in the glory of Jaelen Strong’s Hail Mary grab which gave ASU a last-second victory over USC, but more importantly, the off week gave QB Taylor Kelly an extra seven days to rehab his foot injury, and the senior is slated to make his 34th career start against the Cardinal. The Devils will be looking for some serious revenge as well, having dropped four straight games to Stanford, including two last season: a 42-28 defeat at the Farm (where they outgained David Shaw’s team) and a 38-14 beating in the Pac-12 championship game. The staunch Cardinal stop unit sits only behind top-ranked Louisville in overall defense, giving up just 238 YPG, and leads the nation in points allowed (10 PPG). They have, however, struggled in the red zone on offense, converting just 19 of 28 scoring visits into points (ranked 118th in the nation). We still think highly of the Cardinal, but Stanford’s 1-4 mark as favorites away from The Farm is another deciding factor. Plus Marc’s ‘ALL REVVED UP’ Betcha Didn’t Know article from the Best of the Black Book is at work here, making the Pitchforks the side today. Finally, The Clincher: ASU head coach Todd Graham is 8-0 ATS as a home dog of less than 20 points versus opponents that own at least one loss on the season.
NORTHWESTERN over Nebraska by 10
What’s that sound? Was it a snap or a crackle? No, it was a big-time pop, as in Nebraska’s perfect season coming apart in its last game in East Lansing. Credit the Huskers with clawing their way back from a 27-3 4th quarter defi cit to fall to Michigan State by only 5 points, but a loss is a loss and it puts Nebraska smack in the middle of another ‘bubble burst’ situation here. Surprisingly, this has been one of the most tightly-contested series in the entire country with Northwestern shocking Big Red by 3 points in 2011, then coming up short by just 1-point in 2012 and 3-points last year. Nebraska got the benefit of a bye week after losing to Sparty and you can bet Bo Pelini worked on ways to jump-start a vaunted ground attack that was limited to an incredible 47 yards rushing by the stout Spartan defense. The Wildcats could easily be on a 4-game win streak but
they lost at Minnesota last Saturday – even though they out-yarded the Gophers, 393-274. Northwestern has also covered three straight in the series and gets the job done when looking to exact a little Big 10 revenge, posting a 7-2 ATS mark. Not so with Nebraska who stands 1-6 ATS with rest when playing off a SU loss and 1-5 ATS as chalk versus a revenging conference foe. If you still think the purple cats are in over their heads, pay particular attention to The Clincher: our well-oiled machine reports that Game Seven 3-3 home teams off one-loss exact who were dogs in their last game are 17-4 ATS when facing an opponent off a SU loss.
Notre Dame over Florida State by 3
As the late John Lennon sang, “Instant Karma’s gonna get you, gonna knock you off your feet.” Well, it hasn’t exactly been instant but don’t you get the feeling that the unsavory saga of Jameis Winston and Florida State football is about ready to implode? We can’t think of a better way for Winston and the Noles to get their comeuppance than by losing to the collegiate version of the Dallas Cowboys (America’s Team) – Notre Dame. The last time Brian Kelly and his Irish took part in a showdown of this magnitude, they were unceremoniously destroyed by a superior Alabama squad in the 2012 BCS National Championship game. Rest assured that Kelly will be better prepared this time around, a notion fully supported by our mean machine: defending national champions are 10-17-2 ATS since 1980 as favorites of less than 14 points in matchups of two undefeated teams, including 1-5 ATS if the champs are allowing over 14 PPG on the season. Florida State enters with a shaky 5-13 ATS log as a home favorite of 10 or less points, including 0-5 SUATS if the Seminoles own an .800 or greater win percentage on the season. Worse, FSU’s compliance department is currently investigating why 950 Jameis Winston autographs have appeared with the same company linked to suspended Georgia RB Todd Gurley. Can you say‘distraction’? With QB Everett Golson back in the saddle for Notre Dame, the Irish have scored 30 or more points in five of six games this year, a nice complement to their 17.2 PPG defense. Coach Kelly ships in with a smokin’ 10-1 ATS log as a dog when playing off a spread loss of 9 or more points. That’s puts a spear right to the heart for Seminole nation, all of which leads to The Clincher: Irish QB Golson is 18-0 SU during the regular seaason in his career as a starter with Notre Dame.
Kansas City over San Diego by 6
The Chiefs take the field looking to get back on the winning track off their Bye Week with double-double-revenge on their minds from a pair of losses suffered to the Chargers both last season and in 2012. The good news is Andy Reid is 5-1 ATS in his NFL career in games in which his teams are seeking quadruple revenge. And speaking of Reid, he also happens to be the answer to this week’s TRIVIA TEASER on page 2. The high voltage Chargers enter the contest 0-4 ATS home in games after scoring 30 or more points in each of their last three games. In addition, the Bolts are just 1-11 ATS in their fourth home game of the campaign when facing a foe off a non-division game, and 1-8 ATS in Game Seven when facing an avenging division opponent. The Featherheads’ 5-1 ATS mark as a dog in their fourth away game of the season cements it. However,
if that’s not enough, there is always The Clincher: Head coach Andy Reid is 16-2 SU and 13-5 ATS in games when his teams are playing with rest, including 7-0 SUATS with a .500 or less record on the season.
Written by Marc Lawrence
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping