NORTH CAROLINA over Pitt by 11
The Tar Heels are one of the ‘feel-good’ stories of 2013, having now won three straight after opening the campaign 1-5. We talked last week about how we thought Larry Fedora’s team could run the table if QB Bryn Renner stayed healthy… oops! A re-evaluation of Renner’s shoulder separation later in the week showed the injury to be much more serious than anticipated, and Renner is now out for the year. No problem, though. Sophomore Marquise Williams, who had seen plenty of action this season as a dual-threat alternative to Renner and was making his second start, threw for a pair of TDs, ran for another and cashed the trifecta by catching a 29-yard TD pass from Quinshad Davis on a razzle-dazzle play. Williams actually wore Renner’s No. 2 jersey instead of his usual No. 12 to honor his fallen teammate, and showed great confi dence and poise while leading his team to a 45-14 thrashing of Virginia. The Heels have covered three of the last four games in this series against the Panthers and Fedora is 12-3 SU and 11-4 ATS off back-to-back wins, including 8-1 SUATS versus sub .666 opposition. Pitt is now 5-4 after the upset of the Fighting Irish, thanks in large part to two 4th-quarter interceptions by DB Ray Vinopal (also forced a fumble earlier). The win was sweet revenge for Pitt HC Paul Chryst after his Panthers blew a 14-point lead last year over the Irish and lost in triple overtime. Unfortunately, the Panthers fall into the ‘Post-Irish’ fade mode here as they are just 2-11 ATS versus sub .750 opponents after facing Notre Dame. The Clincher: Teams who defeat Notre Dame SU as an underdog in their last game are just 4-17-1 ATS in their next game if they are facing a sub .600 opponent.
Michigan over NORTHWESTERN by 7
Not sure what the oddsmakers were thinking when they brought the Wildcats in as favorites despite the home field advantage – after all, Northwestern has lost fi ve straight games, failing to cover in four of them. Making matters worse, RB/WR Venric Mark is now out for the season with a broken ankle. After rushing for over 1,300 yards last season and garnering All-American honors, Mark played in only three games this year and ran for just 97 yards. It’s not that Northwestern hasn’t been competitive – they battled Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska down to the wire in their last three games – but this just came across our desk from the MIDWEEK ALERT: the Cats are losing the stats by an average of 78 YPG since October began. Not that Michigan has been much better. We’re trying to figure out what happened to the offensive juggernaut that piled up 751 yards on Indiana, then posted a mere 175 and 168 yards in the last two games. In fact, the running game has been in the minus column for two straight weeks and the last-minute loss to Nebraska was their fi rst at the Big House in 20 games under Brady Hoke (you’d have to go back to 2010 to fi nd at Wolverine defeat at Michigan Stadium). Still, Hoke is 4-0 SU and 3-0 ATS coming off a SU favorite loss if his win percentage is .500 or better. Michigan is still going to a bowl game with its current record of 6-3, but a loss here brings back the possibility of a 5-0 start turning into a losing season – and the powers-that-be in Ann Arbor might consider going in another direction if that happens. But until the Purple Cats learn to step up in a ‘step-up game’, we’ll continue to fade them in these uncharted waters. The Clincher: Our INCREDIBLE STAT on page 3 puts us on another DIA DIA play (dogs in action, doing it again).
TEXAS over Oklahoma State by 8
This one couldn’t have set up any better for us. Thanks to a could-have-gone-either-way OT win over West Virginia, the Longhorns lost a big chunk of support with the betting public. Meanwhile, after getting by TCU four weeks ago, Okie State has smashed three straight Big 12 foes (two on the road) by margins of 31, 18 and 36 points. The result is the Cowboys open as the chalk in this game– and we don’t think it’s warranted. On the OSU side, the visitors arrive with a weak 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS road favorite mark versus a foe off a win, and a miserable 1-8-1 ATS failure in the team’s final road game of the season. Head coach Mike Gundy doesn’t aid the cause with his mediocre 8-17 ATS record off a win versus a greater than .800 opponent. On the other hand, Ol’ Mackie owns a Texas-sized 54-4 SU mark at home when his team has a winning record and they’re taking on an avenging foe. The Horns have also cashed four straight tickets when wearing the dog collar in Austin off a SU win. Only the revenge status from last year’s cruel loss by the Cowboys (Horns scored with 38 seconds remaining to cap a wild 4Q comeback win) keeps this from being elevated to a higher-rated play. With 6-0 Texas now atop the Big 12, and 5-0 Baylor and 5-1 OSU breathing down their neck, playing in front of a re-energized fan base is just the edge Bevo needs to keep the cattle drive alive. And with memories of the early-season ‘Brown Must Go’ campaign still in his mind, Mackie knows another stumble puts him right back
on the burner. The Clincher: College football home dogs off an OT win are 20-3-1 ATS when facing an opponent off a win of 8 or more points that allows more than 19 PPG on the season since the inception of overtime games in 1996.
WASHINGTON over Philly by 10
It appears Nick Foles is fast becoming the catalyst behind the ‘remember Michael Vick’ saga evolving in Philly these days. After sitting behind the dog-killer to start his career, Foles has risen to prominence in a starting role this season as he brings an eyepopping 132.5 QB Rating into this contest, tossing 16 TDs while yet to throw a pick. Through it all, the Eagles return home off a pair of road wins knowing they’ve been burying their backers at the ‘Linc’, going 0-10 SUATS in their last ten home games. Adding to the insult, Philadelphia has failed miserably when hosting an avenging bunch of Redskins, going 3-12-1 ATS of late, including 1-11-1 ATS
in games where the Eagles own a win percentage of .750 or less on the season. With Washington out to avenge a 33-27 season opening loss to Philly, and the Hogs an outstanding 10-0 ATS as division road dogs of less than 7 points with revenge since 2000, it’s RG3’s turn to shine today. In another ‘killing games’ special, the high-flying Eagles get shot down once again at home. The Clincher: Washington head coach Mike Shanahan is 19-6-1 ATS In his NFL career with revenge in division games versus .500 or greater opponents, including 10-1 ATS as a dog of less than 7 points.
Baltimore over CHICAGO by 3
It was now-or-never time for the Ravens last week and they managed to escape with an overtime win over the Bengals, keeping their chance of capturing the AFC North alive. Today’s mission is to get out of the Windy
City alive and according to our history book, Baltimore’s prospects look good. That’s because the Black Birds are 6-1 ATS against teams from the NFC North and 8-2 ATS in games after meeting the Bengals, including 4-0 ATS away. The Bears check in with a 1-10-1 ATS record as home favorites off a home game, which goes hand-in-hand with Jay Cutler’s (check status) crummy 14-12 SU and 6-19-1 ATS NFL career mark as a non-division home favorite. Our well-oiled database confirms these notions with this beauty: NFL defending Super Bowl champions who are underdogs with a losing record from Game Five out are 16-4-1 ATS since 1980. You know what to do.
PITTSBURGH over Detroit by 3
Big Ben sounded the bell and the Steelers answered the call in last week’s 13-point win here over the Bills. Demanding his teammates step up or he’d bolt, Pittsburgh held Buffalo to a season-low 227 yards as the Steel Curtain defense came out of hibernation after having been torched for 55 points a week earlier against New England. For it all, Pittsburgh still resides in the AFC North cellar, but only two games behind division-leading Cincinnati. A 7-2-1 ATS record in its last ten tries as a home dog holds promise, as does a 13-4 SU and 12-4-1 ATS mark at home off a home win from Game Ten out. The Lions arrive off a down-to-the wire victory over division rival Chicago sporting a lousy 1-8 ATS log as road favorites of less than 6 points off a win. As home dog lovers, it all chimes with our way of thinking.