Ohio U over RUTGERS by 3
Break up the Bobbies. Off to a 3-0 start for the first time since the 70’s, Frank Solich’s Cats are looking to complete a non-conference sweep as they head into league play. Truth be told, a win this afternoon ‘on the Banks of the Old Raritan’ could fi nd the Bobcats unbeaten until an early November showdown with Temple. We don’t think they could have asked for a more perfect setting as this Homecoming game for Rutgers – and you know how we despise favorites in Homecoming affairs – fi nds the Scarlet Lettermen in look-ahead mode with conference revengers against Syracuse and Pitt
on tap. And speaking of perfect, our PLAYBOOK.com history book tells us that Ohio is 5-0 SU and ATS after scoring 35 or more points versus .500 or less opposition, while Solich, himself is 5-0 ATS on the road versus a nonconference opponent off a SU loss. Toss in the Knights’ 1-5 ATS mark as home favorites off a SU loss versus .600 or greater opposition and there’ll be no ‘Scarlet Fever’ today in New Brunswick. With all due respect to Tony Soprano, we say Fuggedabout Rutgers and grab the points. Ohio, outright!
Strength-of-schedule purists would call us crazy for siding with the visitors here. After all, Miami’s 0-2 SU start has come at the expense of ‘legitimate’ foes Missouri and Minnesota – while Bowling Green is offto a 2-1 jump courtesy of Idaho, Morgan State and Wyoming. Plus,
they would point out that the Bee Gees actually lost as 10-point homechalk last week to mediocre Wyoming. To which we reply, “So what?”
The red-faced Falcons outgained the Cowboys by 118 yards in the defeat (lost on a blocked PAT with 2 seconds left in regulation) and
they’ve won all three games ‘In The Stats’ by a whopping average of 232 YPG this season! That sort of on-fi eld domination sounds mighty
good, particularly in a series where the home team has suffered to the tune of 1-6 SU and ATS recently. That stat makes a perfect twin
with the RedHawks’ 1-6 ATS mark in home openers to bookend this revelation from our PLAYBOOK.com database: new head coaches in
home openers are just 24-40-1 ATS in pick to -10 pointspread roles.Not to be outdone, our SMART BOX on page 3 shows Bowling Green
to be in one of this weekend’s strongest ‘play-on’ situations – and when ol’ smarty pants speaks, we listen. Falcons take fl ight in this
latest ‘WTF’ (wrong team favored) matchup.
California over Washington by 11
No, we’re not making this pick to get even with Washington for ruining last week’s 4* BEST BET call on Nebraska – even though we’re plenty miffed at the Huskers for wasting a 44-17 lead and giving up three 4th-quarter touchdowns to blow the cover. We’re simply fading the Huskies as chalk against what we perceive to be a superior opponent. Head coach Jeff Tedford claimed his 75th win at California last Saturday and thus became the program’s all-time winningest coach, so he won’t have to shoulder the pressure of reaching that milestone when he leads his Golden Bears into Seattle this afternoon. He’ll more likely be fueled by a good dose of double revenge – Cal lost SU to the sled dogs as a 7- point favorite in their last two meetings – and Tedford owns a dominating 8-1 SU and ATS record when playing with revenge off a non-conference game. We also like catching the points today since Cal has been favored in the last EIGHT get-togethers, plus the visitors have covered all three games against Washington when made the dog. More good news comes in the form of a crippled Husky defense that’s been ripped for 36.7 points and 452 yards per game (gave up 309 rushing yards to Nebraska). The clincher? Teams are just 13-20 ATS in games after facing Bo Pelini’s Nebraska Cornhuskers, including 3-10 ATS at home in conference play and 1-8 ATS as favorites. Oh yeah, we forgot to mention we also have the support of not one but TWO of our weekly newsletter features, the SMART BOX and the INCREDIBLE STAT! In this false favorite special, take the bad news Bears to humble the Huskies.
USC over Arizona State by 10
Despite outgaining the Illini, 362-240, at Champaign last week – andwearing their new ‘pitchfork’ logo uniforms – Dennis Erickson’s Sun Devils found a way to lose the game, 17-14. The formula? Penalties, turnovers and a porous offensive line that allowed Illinois to record six sacks while keeping constant pressure on ASU QB Brock Osweiler.Folks, if Erickson’s staff thinks they saw some heat last week from the enemy pass rush, they’d better tighten their chinstraps against the relentless Trojans. Thanks to the ‘no postseason’ sanctions against USC, no one is paying much attention to the men of Troy as they rebuild their army in plain sight. The defense held all three of this year’s foes (all potential bowl teams) to 331 or fewer yards this campaign, a marked improvement over last year’s 400-yard defense.USC can also boast an 8-2 ATS mark in road openers and the Trojans are a remarkable 35-4 SU in the fi rst four games of the season over the previous ten years. In addition, the visitors fall into the ‘DIA DIA Dogs’ category (Dominating Dogs In Action, Doing It Again), a system where we fade favorites that have been the underdog for the last 10 meetings in a series. The Sun Devils also fail to help their cause with a wallet-emptying 2-10 ATS failure as conference chalk of less than 14 points when playing off a loss. With a team that owns the nation’s best win percentage away from home the last eight-plus years (46-9 .836), we’ll ride this Trojan horse in the desert this evening.
SEATTLE over Arizona by 7
To the casual observer this may appear to be nothing more than a 3* BEST BET, but those with a keen eye realize this has the makings of a False Favorite Special. For starters, we refuse to lay points on the road with a team that allows over 100 more YPG than it gains. We could probably stop there but we’d be amiss if we didn’t point out that the Redbirds are 2-8 SU and 0-10 ATS in franchise history when they are .500 or greater and facing a division opponent off a doubledigit SU loss. It doesn’t stop there as the Seahawks are 12-4 SU and 13-3 ATS in the fi rst four games of the season when playing off back-to- back losses, including a remarkable 8-0 SU and ATS versus a foe off a SU loss. Even our NFL Coaches League has a say in the matter as Arizona’s Ken Whisenhunt is a wallet-grabbing 1-11 ATS with revenge versus an opponent off a SU and ATS loss, while Pete Carroll is 4-1 SU and 4-0-1 ATS in his last fi ve home games off back-to-back SU losses. We can call this whatever you’d like but one thing is for certain – we’re calling for the outright Seattle win.
MINNESOta over Detroit by 10
The hottest new act in the NFL this season is the ‘New Kids On The Block’. They hail from the Motor City and they are hitting on all cylinders, entering the Twin Cities off last week’s crushing 45-point win over the Chiefs. The problem is if you’re interested in downloading their sounds into your IPOD it will cost you an arm and a leg these days. Especially in comparison to prices in the past where the Lions have been favored ONE TIME in their last 34 visits in Minnesota (FYI: they lost that game straight-up on the fi eld). Enter the Vikings’ Donovan McNabb, a quarterback who does not take losing back-to-back games well at all. That’s evidenced by his 12-4-1 ATS career mark as a starter in this league this role, including 7-1-1 ATS when taking points in this role. In fact, the Vikes themselves are 8-1 SU and ATS in games off back-to-back defeats when taking on a .500 or greater opponent. Yes, we realize the new crooners have won their last six games in a row (10 if you count the preseason) but until they play a better tune on the highway (3-26 SU last 29 away – favored once – lost the whole game), we’ll do what comes natural and take the points.
DENVER over Tennessee by 10
Two .500 teams, each losers last year with a new look and a new head coach, go at it in this non-division AFC clash with Tennessee laying more points than anytime over its last 21 games (4-9 ATS as chalk in that span). Unfortunately for the Titans, they have not been able to establish any sort of ground game (117 yards in two games this season) as they suffer the ill effects of star RB Chris Johnson’s exhibition camp holdout. The Broncos enter with a 13-6 SU and 15-4 ATS mark off back-to-back home games when taking on an opponent off a win knowing John Fox boasts a 10-1 ATS career mark as a road dog in games in which both teams are off win. The fact that NFL home favorites of 6 or more points that won six of less games last season are 2-14-1 ATS when playing off a SU home dog win cements it. We’ll run with the wily old Fox here today.