CINCINNATI over Louisville by 3
When we get to these early December contests, teams are either playing for all the marbles or there is very little on the line; rarely does the importance of the contest fall anywhere in between. For the Cardinals, it’s basically option #2. While QB Teddy Bridgewater’s name comes up occasionally in Heisman discussions since Johnny Manziel, Marcus Mariota, and Bryce Petty imploded down the stretch, the invitations to the trophy ceremony will have been distributed by kickoff; thus, even a huge performance tonight will not get him to the party. As for his Cards, they have no shot at the first-ever AAC crown – the loss to Central Florida basically took care of that. Still, an 11-1 mark and a finish in the Top 20 are strong accomplishments, and a win over a rival school less than 100 miles away can do wonders during the approaching recruiting season. Unfortunately for Charlie Strong, his offense is in serious decline since the UCF loss, averaging just 348 YPG in the last three contests (down over 100 YPG from their 455 YPG season average). Meanwhile, the Bearcats are one of the hotter teams in college football and have plenty to play for – they’ve won six straight contests (making that early October loss to South Florida a real headscratcher). and since they didn’t play UCF this season, they still have a slim chance of winning the conference title if the Knights lose to SMU. This will also be an interesting matchup between two of the nation’s top defensive units (Louisville is #2 while Cincy is #10) and while the Bearcats are 11-3 ATS as an underdog with rest, the Cards are just 1-4 ATS coming off a bye. Also, while Louisville has not covered in any of their three weekday games this season, Cincinnati is 4-1-1 ATS versus the number with the extra zzz’s recently. The most important call of all comes from the tag-team of the SMART BOX (‘Puttin’ On The Stats’ from Issue 12) and the AWESOME ANGLE (on page 2), who put their heads together and come up with a no-doubt call on the Bearcats.
Bowling Green over No Illinois by 4
You know by now that we love the MAC – some interesting alternative jerseys, an occasional star player headed for the NFL, and best of all, an extra night of football on Tuesdays in the second half of the season – so you can be sure we’ll be sitting back in the recliner with an adult beverage to watch this title tilt. With plenty of experience playing on weekdays, Bowling Green has made the most of it, going 7-0 SUATS when avoiding
the weekend schedule during the regular season. In addition, the Falcons have not won the MAC championship since back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992, so they’re definitely thirsty for this trophy. On the flip side, only an upset here can keep the Huskies out of a second consecutive BCS bowl game, and they believe they’ve come too far to be denied. This game, which will be played at Ford Field in Detroit, will feature two Top 25 teams that are killing it in the stats during the 2nd half of the season (BG +199 YPG; Huskies +214 YPG) and the BeeGees have won seven of their last nine games (the two losses by a FG or less). The Falcon
defense has shut down any “Jive Talkin” from their opponents in the last four games, allowing just 175 YPG while holding their last 3 foes to season-low yards. Of course, Bowling Green’s 9-3 SU mark pales in comparison with the Huskies’ 24-game regular season winning streak (just one loss in their last 33 regular season contests), but we want you to keep in mind this tasty morsel from the all-knowing database: MAC title game favorites off back-to-back wins are just 1-8-2 ATS in conference history. With Northern Illinois encapsulated in the best of this week’s SMART BOX fade, we’re pouring a cold one and calling for the upset. The Clincher: the Falcons are 8-0 SUATS in their last eight MAC contests away from home.
Georgia Dome - Atlanta, GA
Missouri over Auburn by 3
After winning seven BCS titles in a row, the all-powerful SEC is in danger of being shut out of the Championship game on January 6. That prospect does not sit well with Auburn AD Jay Jacobs: immediately after his Tigers upset No. 1 Alabama to move into the 3rd spot behind unbeaten Florida State and Ohio State, Jacobs declared “it would be a disservice to the nation” if Auburn were to win tonight’s SEC title match against No. 5 Missouri and still be denied a chance to play for the national championship at the Rose Bowl. “This is inarguable,” Jacobs said Sunday. “I think it would be, quite frankly, un-American for us not to get a chance to go to Pasadena.” WTF??? This coming from a man whose team would be 9-3 and totally missing from the conversation if not for back-to-back miracle finishes – the ‘Immaculate Deflection’ that resulted in Auburn’s 43-38 defeat of Georgia (Tigers blew a 27-7 lead in that one) and last week’s dramatic ‘Return to Ender’ TD runback following a missed Alabama FG. In fact, THREE of Aubbie’s wins this season came on the game’s final play, not the style of football that would persuade us to vote them into the title contest over an undefeated team like the Seminoles or Buckeyes. The Tigers’ stunning 34-28 takedown of the Tide may actually prove costly here as our database notes that teams who beat the defending national champion are 1-4 SU and 0-5 ATS in their next game since 1990 if they are not undefeated and they allow 20 or more PPG on the season. Missouri was
a ‘Mission Team’ this season after going 5-7 in 2012 (Auburn won only 3 games) and Gary Pinkel’s Tigers have certainly played like it. Besides outscoring foes by almost 20 PPG, our MIDWEEK ALERT reports that
in games against 5 common opponents this year, Missouri won the net stats over Auburn by an average of 47 YPG. Gus Malzahn’s squad can claim a perfect 6-0 ATS mark of late as chalk of 5 or fewer points – and
the Tigers do have that ‘team of destiny’ look about them – but Auburn has cashed only one of six tickets after beating Bama and squaring off with a greater-than .800 opponent in the next contest, while Mizzou’s
only setback was a 3-point overtime loss to South Carolina. We’ll stick with the ‘Tigerdog’ here, a Missouri team that has turned the ball over only 7 times in its last nine games, and is 3-0 SUATS as a pick or dog this season. The Georgia Dome venue favors Auburn but we think the superior Mizzou ‘D’ will be the deciding factor tonight. Don’t know if we’ll hear any lobbying from HC Pinkel afterward but we like Missouri to score its 5th conference road win of the season – and don the 2013 SEC crown.
Washington Over Kansas City by 6
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Both the Chiefs and the Redskins find themselves in danger of losing valuable territorial ground, in more ways than one, in this non-conference clash with these two squads riding a collective 0-7 SUATS losing skein. Since being the only team in NFL history to open the season 9-0 after going 2-14 the previous year, Kansas City has been barbecued after its Bye Week. Now riding an 0-3 SUATS skid, the Chiefs are in the middle of a 5-foot-long division sandwich, off three straight AFC West battles with two of their three remaining games also division affairs. Making matters worse, KC is also 4-8 SU and 2-10 ATS as non-conference road chalk. On the flip side, the struggling Skins benefi t knowing that NFL teams in the 3rd of a 3-game home stand, off back-to-back losses, are 15-5 SU and 16-4 ATS since 2000, including 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS when taking 4 or more points. Toss in the Chiefs’ 0-10 SU and 1-8-1 ATS mark at NFC East sites from Game Seven out and we’re gobbling up the points in this Subway special. The Clincher: Washington head coach Mike Shanahan is 12-1 ATS in his NFL career as a dog of 2 or more points off back-to-back losses when facing an opponent off a loss.
NY Giants over SAN DIEGO by 3
Given up for dead in mid-October, the Giants have come back to life like the Pink Floyd tune, wondering, “Where were you when I was burned and broken?” Like San Diego at 5-7 this season, the G-Men must overcome no less than fi ve other teams in order to achieve a Wild Card spot, meaning this game is critical for both teams’ chances in this year’s playoff picture. Life on the road is what suits New York best with the Giants bringing a 15-3 ATS away record into today’s game when playing off an away win. In addition, Eli Manning’s sterling 10-3 ATS career mark as a non-division dog in games from December out, including 5-0 ATS when off a win, jumps off the page. The Chargers’ non-electrifying 1-6 ATS record as favorites off a loss of 7 or more points, and their 1-9-1 ATS mark when laying points after taking points the previous week, pulls the plug on their chances. In a lights-out effort from Eli, Big Blue takes out powder blue as Diego lays another brick in its stonewall season.