Northwestern over ILLINOIS by 7
The fightin’ Zooks are 4-0 for the first time since 1951 but last week’s3-point win over Western Michigan as 14-point home chalk reminds us that laying ample points with this bunch can be dangerous to one’s pocketbook. This fifth straight homer also won’t find Octoberfest in Champaign as teams in the final game of a season-opening five game home stand are 0-5-1 ATS when playing off an ATS loss of 6 or more points. You won’t find information like that anywhere but in PLAYBOOK, nor can any other publication boast that the visiting Wildcats are also a double SMART BOX play this afternoon! Last
week’s sagacious square expects Pat Fitzgerald’s felines to ‘Floor’ it while this week’s ‘BOX’ finds the Purple Gang ‘Fresh’ off their fi rst loss of the season. And despite suffering its worst defeat of the season last year to Illinois (48-27 at home), Northwestern is a solid 8-3 ATS in this rivalry since 2000, including 4-1 ATS on this field. Better yet, it looks like all-everything QB Dan Persa will be back for the Wildcats – and if he’s in, so are we. The ‘Cats’ 10-1 ATS mark as dogs off a SU loss of 6 or more points puts the finishing touches on this upset special. We love the Purple Hearts.
Don’t tell anyone, but the Spartans have held all four foes to season-low yards – and they field the top-ranked defense in the nation, allowing a mere 172 YPG. MSU bounced back nicely from its misleading 31-13 loss to Notre Dame by drubbing Central Michigan, 45-7… correcting the problems that plagued them the previous week in South Bend. The culprit was a non-existent ground game– the Dame held Sparty to a shocking 29 yards in 23 carries – and 86 yards in penalties (MSU won the yardage battle, 358-275). Now the Spartans, who have surprisingly grabbed the cash in eight of their last ten trips to the Horseshoe, hope they can keep the rush attack going against an Ohio State defense that was gashed for a mortifying 240 yards by Miami Florida. Besides the poise of QB Kirk Cousins, Michigan State also brings a sturdy 6-2 ATS mark of late in its first Big Ten encounter. The grim truth for Buckeye fans is this: the loss of Terrelle Pryor to this team is similar in substance to Peyton Manning’s loss to the Colts… both teams are leaderless without a capable backup. Factor in the inestimable absence of a head coach the caliber of Jim Tressel and it’s no surprise that the gutted Bucks fell out of the AP Poll for the fi rst time in 103 consecutive weeks this year. Usually it’s Ohio State that owns a big defensive edge in this matchup but not today. And yes, we know the Spartans have the hated Wolverines on deck but that showdown won’t happen for two weeks. Boasting the more experienced coaching staff and a significant edge at QB.
East Carolina over North Carolina by 7
Fourth meeting in the past five years between these two NC schools and ECU will be out for blood after walking the plank in the last two affairs, both at Chapel Hill. Last year’s game was particularly ugly for the Pirates, a turnover-plagued effort that saw them torpedoed by a score of 42-17. But today the Tar Heels must travel to Greenville fresh off their gut-busting loss to Georgia Tech and tackle an ECU team playing its last home game until October 29. UNC stands a timid 2-6 SU and 1-7 ATS when favored after facing the Yellow Jackets and the Tar Heel offense has regressed in every game they’ve played this season. The Pirates got their groove back last week in a 542-yard performance against UAB, managing to win the game despitea gray-hair-inducing seven turnovers. East Carolina has fi lled the treasure chest in its last 15 tries as a home dog, going 12-3-1 ATS –including 6-0-1 ATS when engaging in battle with a non-conference opponent. And let’s face it: sooner or later the North Carolina coaching staff’s lack of game experience and overall team depth will rise up to bite them in the heels. Why not here? Considering that Marc’s ‘POSITIVELY 4TH STREET’ BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW article on page 2 reinforces the Pirate side of things, we’ll proudly fl y the Jolly Roger at Dowdy-Ficklin Stadium. We’ll call for the Spartans to win outright.
NEW Mexico over New Mexico State by 6
You knew it was coming. New Mexico’s Mike Locksley was the odds-on favorite to become the first coach to get canned this year and it happened Sunday. He was given the heave-ho after a disastrous 2-26 effort in just over two seasons and defensive coordinator Gene Barlow will serve as interim coach for the balance of the campaign. Other than the departure of Locksley, we’re somewhat confused as to why the Aggies opened as Mexico State is a woeful 7-24 ATS in the series and have been favored only ONCE in the last ten meetings (last year) – and they lost the money. The Aggies are also a pathetic 1-7 ATS as road favorites versus a foe with revenge. Worse, NMSU has lost sophomore starting QB Andrew Manley for the season with a torn knee ligament and now the visitors must play their biggest rivalry game of the year with JUCO senior Matt Christian taking Manley’s place. Much like a team banding together after the loss of a key player, look for a spirited effort from the Lobos here today – now that the Locksmith has opened the doors and left town.
Cincinnati over Buffalo by 10
Only if you hail from the eastern shore of Lake Erie can you fully appreciate what happened in Buffalo last week. The Bills’ dramatic come-from-behind win over arch nemesis New England snapped an inglorious 15-game losing skid in the series, and vaulted Buffy to a 3-0 start as they now entertain visions of making it back to the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 campaign. However, as our good friend Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.” There’s still plenty of work to be done between now and the end of the season – and today’s visit to the Queen City does not bode well for the Bills. Not when they are 1-5 SU and ATS in games after playing the Patriots. And not when head coach Chan Gailey brings an 0-9 ATS mark into the game when taking to the non-division highway with a .500 or greater record. Yes, we know the Bengals are 1-15 ATS in Game Four of the season but we love the fact they have outstatted all three foes this season. The icing on the cake comes from our database as it reminds us that 3-0 teams on the non-division road In Game Four of the season are 1-10 ATS when playing off a SU underdog win since 1980. So take that Game Four stat and stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine; namely, up the rear ends of those players residing in division-leading Buffalo.
ARIZONA over NY Giants by 7
We had this one circled right after the Giants topped the Eagles early on Sunday and then put it in ink after the Redbirds fell to the Seahawks later that day. To top it off, our database satisfied our suspicions as it notes: NFL road favorites off a SU road win are 1-10-4 ATS when taking on a foe off a SU favorite loss. Yes, the G-Men have bullied the NFC West since 2005 (10-3 SU, 11-2 ATS), including a Week Two win over the Rams, but heading West this week may put a few more years on Tom Coughlin. The Cards are a determined 7-0 ATS off back-to-back SU losses versus a foe off a double-digit ATS win and 7-0 ATS in Game Four of the season while the Giants are a winless 0-9 ATS when .500 or greater versus a foe off a division game. With their big win over Philly, a ‘Giant’ letdown is in order this afternoon in the desert and Ken Whisenhunt’s sterling 19-4 ATS mark versus a foe off a SU win of 7 or more points confi \rms it. We’re ‘Zoned in on the hungry home dog.
ST. LOUIS over Washington by 6
The Rams were certainly anything but tough in their 37-7 mauling on this field last week by the Ravens. And if it proves to be a precursor of events to follow, St. Louis fans will be pleased to learn the last time Steve Spagnuolo’s team suffered a home loss in similar fashion (in his rookie season in 2009), they went on to down the Lions straight up as 3.5-point dogs the following week. Considering the fact that NFL home teams playing off a 24-point or worse home loss have shown a strong propensity for bouncing back with a vengeance in the past (30-15 ATS when hosting a .500 or greater opponent), we are forced to stay at home with Louie here today. It’s not as hard as it looks, considering the Skins are just 4-14-1 ATS as a pick or favorite in games versus sub .600 opponents after dueling with Dallas. The draining manner in which Washington fell to the Cowboys only enhances our chances. Now, grab the clothes pin and apply until the smell of last week’s lambasting is gone.