The Bulls are a strong fade according to Marc’s ‘Only The Good Die Young’ article on page 2 and we agree. A couple of conference road losses – both as favorites – appears to have put USF out of Big East title contention and is certainly disappointing considering the Bulls opened the season with a win at South Bend. Those last two losses are a ‘signal’ and we’re not about to ‘throw them a line.’ In his coaching career, the dog has been the way to go in Skippy’s games anyway (52-27-1 ATS) and ‘Mission Dog’ Cincinnati fi gures to arrive with much more bite than bark. The Bearcats walloped NC State, 44-14, in their only revenge payback to date this season and are probably a bit more eager for this conference foe, especially since they outgained the Bulls, 590-378, in last year’s 38-30 loss as 9-point home chalk. Though we don’t think you’ll need the points, we do realize sometimes these games ‘come down to fate’ so we suggest grabbing the fi eld goal ASAP and not ‘starting too late’ for this noon kickoff. Heck, if you want to run with a ‘dangerous crowd’, you may even want to grab the money line. Either way, we have a feeling you might be ‘laughing a bit too loud’ when this one is over…ah, but that never hurt no one. Only the Bulls are done!
MISSOURI over Oklahoma State by 3
Okay, this is the last time we complain about OSU starting a quarterback the same age as Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. Regardless of birth certifi cates, the Cowboys are the real deal… enough to make us think this is a Mike Gundy’s best chance ever to unseat Oklahoma as the state’s ruling football power. But we’re also at the stage of the season where the noose begins to get tighter and tighter each week – especially for undefeated teams on the road in tough venues. And folks, it doesn’t get much tougher anywhere than Columbia, Missouri. A Q&A with our resident database tells us the Tigers are an impressive 31-5 SU in their last 36 home games, with only three losses by more than 8 points. That number looks even stronger when we check out Mizzou’s 9-1 ATS success as a home dog of 14 or fewer points versus an undefeated foe. And it turns out that Okie State has not saddled up in one of its best roles, going just 2-5 ATS as road chalk of 10 points or less off a previous road game. Yes, the Cowboys have put on some grand theater with their exciting wins over Texas A&M and Texas but the fact is the striped cats have squared off against tougher opposition this campaign, facing lined foes with a combined win-loss total of 19-8. With No. 4 Oklahoma State nudged right up against No. 3 Oklahoma in the fi rst BCS poll, the unbeaten pokes will be feeling the noose – and under big-time pressure to deliver. Tigers are looking to get even for back-to-back beatings in 2008-09 and will bring it in today’s high-noon spotlight game.
Hey, you’re making THAT face again! Just because the Wildcats have donned this season’s early Cinderella slipper doesn’t make them immune from ambush by a bitter rival. In a four-game stretch so incredible it almost begs its own reality series, Kansas State and the ageless Bill Snyder have won each game straight-up as underdogs – while being outstatted in all four contests! Normally, we like to wager ON a hot streak but something like this defi es all logic and sense, and can only end in failure. It helps our cause that the Wildcats are the culprit in this week’s AWESOME ANGLE (page 2), plus they own an unconvincing 0-4 ATS mark as road chalk of 7 or more points. Kansas should be frothing at the mouth for a piece of the purple here: last year’s 57-7 beheading of the Jayhawks was the worst loss of KU head coach Turner Gill’s career. Gill stands 16-7-1 ATS with conference revenge, including 8-0-1 ATS when off a pointspread win of 6 or more points. And if we take a closer look at K-State’s miracle four-game run, we notice not one of those wins came by more than 7 points. The Jayhawks have cashed in three of the past four get-togethers and own a 5-1 ATS mark as dogs in the second of back-to-back home games. It’s not such a tall order when you realize KSU’s slipper is made of glass…
C Michigan over BALL ST by 6
How ‘bout those Gonads? With last week’s stunning 23-20 win over Ohio U, Ball State fi nds itself in a logjam with three other MAC West teams at 4-3 SU and 2-1 in conference play, just one game behind division-leading Toledo. But this potential feel-good story might disappear quicker than ABC’s remake of ‘Charlie’s Angels.’ Today’s matchup is one of those double ‘inside-out’ contests we so eagerly look forward to throughout the season. The visiting Chippewas lost to Eastern Michigan last week despite outgaining the Eagles and the ‘Nadsters were outyarded in their upset of the Bobcats. In fact, sportswriters in Mt. Pleasant won’t be comparing CMU’s defense to a swiss cheese once they get a look at Ball State’s 113th-ranked stop unit! We have nothing but respect for the linesmakers in Vegas but they are human and they do make mistakes – like hanging the favorite tag on the Gonads here. In fact, they’ve had the gall to make Ball State the favorite just seven times since they laid 15.5 points to Buffalo in the MAC title game (and lost, 42-24) in 2008 – and the ‘Nads have responded in typical numb-nuts fashion, going 0-7 ATS in those games. Revenge for last year’s 31-17 home loss to BSU as 19-point chalk seals it. If you think the Gonads will be hanging around at the end of this one, we’ve got one word – courtesy of Craig Ferguson’s robot skeleton sidekick, Geoff Peterson – for you: Balls.
DENVER over Miami by 6
Welcome to the Church of Broken Hearts. Presiding over the congregation, and making his long awaited season debut at the dais, will be pastor Tim Tebow. Denver beat writer Brandon Galvin contends, “Tebow is a special talent. He is a big kid with a decently accurate and powerful arm. His glaring strengths, however, are his poise, will, determination and athleticism.” With star WR Brandon Lloyd now in St. Louis, Eric Decker (22 receptions this season) is likely to become Tebow’s top target. Meanwhile services for the walking dead are underway in Miami where the Dolphins return home following Monday night’s pathetic performance against the Jets. Unfortunately for the Fish, there is no special talent on this team nor any redeeming numbers benefi ting them when playing at home, where they are 1-11 SU and 2-10 ATS in their last 12 games at Sun Life Stadium, and 2-11 ATS as favorites under soon-to-be-departed head coach Tony Sparano. Hence, the ‘Fins give new meaning to the verse “Cleaning Your House.” Miami’s 0-8 SU and 1-7 ATS mark in games after jousting with the Jets is little salvation. Neither is Denver HC John Fox’s 5-1 SU and 6-0 ATS mark in his NFL career as a dog off a loss when taking on sub .400 opposition. With just one win between these two teams this season, deliverance comes disguised as a dog today. Let us bow our heads and pray…
ATLANTA over Detroit by 10
The handshake seen ‘round the world may just be start the start of bad things to come for Jim Schwartz and his Lions. As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end” and our PLAYBOOK.com database confirms the English proverb as it notes: NFL teams who open the season 4-0 or better are just 1-8-1 ATS off their fi rst loss of the season when facing a .500 or greater non-division foe off a SU and ATS win. As it is, the Lions, themselves, are 2-8 SU off their initial setback of the year– not a good sign for a team laying points in the follow-up. The line also bears watching as the Lions are just 1-6 ATS in this series as a dog or favorite of 3 or less points. And as for Schwartz, he doesn’t handle defeats particularly well, either, sporting a 3-11 SU and 4-9-1 ATS record off a SU loss versus a .500 or less non-division opponent. That’s a far cry from Atlanta HC Mike Smith’s determined 9-1 ATS mark against .750 or greater opposition. Toss in the Falcons’ bribed-if-you-win 7-4 SU and 9-2 ATS log before a Bye and you can see why we’re not afraid to ‘shake’ things up today in Motown. Down goes Detroit, again!
ARIZONA over Pittsburgh by 7
Our famous Super Bowl loser angles comes into play this afternoon in the desert as these teams are just 16-36-2 ATS as non-division road favorites, including 7-26-1 ATS when laying less than 6 points. Ironically, the last time the Steelers won the Lombardi Trophy in 2008, it was these Cardinals who would be given the tag of runner-up. That certainly didn’t sit well with Arizona headman (and former Pittsburgh assistant coach) Ken Whisenhunt who desired the Steelers job in 2007 before it was eventually given to current head coach Mike Tomlin. Whisenhunt will get another crack at his former team and his head-turning 13-4 SU and 16-1 ATS mark versus a non-division opponent off a SU win of 7 or more points when his Cards arrive off a non-division contest says he exacts some minor revenge (can you really avenge a SB loss in the regular season?). Patriots’ and Ravens revenge games on deck also add to the likelihood of another losing effort from last year’s Super Bowl runner-ups. It’s in the ‘Cards’ (and the database) – ‘Zona outright!