GEORGIA TECH over Clemson by 6
We ‘Betcha Didn’t Know’ that this week’s upset special would also be a Clash of the Angles! The Yellow Jackets fall into Marc’s ‘Only the Good Die Young’ syndrome (fading home teams that started the season 4-0 or better if the loss was preceded by their initial loss of the season and they are facing a .500 or greater conference foe) while the Tigers are ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ fade (play against any road team off a SU win that went 6-7 the previous season). Thus, since the Angles cancel one another out, we’ll turn to our Midweek Alert and it strongly recommends saddling up with Tech’s fourth-ranked rushing offense (321 RYPG) as it should find some rather large holes in Clemmie’s mediocre rush ‘D’ (169 DRYPG – #79 in the nation). Our NCAA Coaches League also sides with the home dogs as it notes: Yellow Jackets’ head man Paul Johnson is 12-4 SU and 12-3-1 ATS as a pick or dog of 4 or less points and 2-1 SU and ATS as a dog of 15 or less points versus undefeated opposition. Meanwhile, Tigers’ head coach Dabo Swinney is just 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS off back-to-back SU wins versus a foe off back-toback SU losses. Like Wisky and Oklahoma last week, look for the noose to get real tight tonight in Atlanta for the 5th-ranked Tigers as they drop to 3-8 SU in Bobby Dodd Stadium since 1990. In this important Week Nine battle, we’ll ‘rush’ to judgment early in the week and call for the outright upset.
We pegged the Illini as a potential ‘Bubble Burst’ victim last week and they played the role to perfection, falling behind 21-0 against Purdue before a second-half rally came up short. However, look for a reversal of fortune here as this is the kind of spot in which upsets occur: backing a dog that opened the season 6-0 or better before taking it on the chops twice in a row. Teams in this role are a 401K-worthy 70% ATS proposition since 1980, including 5-0 ATS the last seven years. The Zooker brings some additional pointspread success as he answers to this week’s TRIVIA TEASER on page 2. In addition, Illinois has nagged Joe Paterno worse than a bout of arthritis recently, cashing in four of the last fi ve get-togethers and reeling off a 4-0 ATS mark in the previous four trips to Happy Valley. A quick check of the Big Ten standings tells us the Illini will arrive with a sense of urgency: Joe Pa sits atop the Legends Division at 4-0 SU, two legs up on the visitors. However, there’s no guarantee Joe’s spindly legs will hold up for the remainder of the season as Penn State closes out 2011 against Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Kudos to the Nittany Lion defense for holding fi ve foes to season-low yards but we can’t lay almost a TD with PSU’s fumble-prone offense struggling to average less than 21 PPG against lined opponents. With the visitors wearing the dog collar off back-to-back SU and ATS favorite losses in which they outgained both foes – and boasting a 9-0 ATS mark as road dogs off a SU chalk loss – we make the call. Zook ‘em!
Buffalo over MIAMI OHIO by 1
Like Missouri, Miami Ohio gets caught in the ring this afternoon in Oxford. While it’s true that the visiting Bulls haven’t delivered any knockout blows outside of their home range this season (0-4 SU, 2-2 ATS), we must respect the fact that the RedHawks are in the best (or worst if you’re a glass half empty type) of this week’s SMART BOX. Yes, in typical Bulls’ fashion, a missed PAT with 14 seconds remaining thwarted a furious fourth quarter comeback (trailed 31-10 entering the fi nal stanza) as they fell to Northern Illinois 31-30. However, Jeff Quinn’s bunch completely dominated the powerful Huskies from a yardage standpoint (572-328) and the feeling here is they will carry that confi dence into their second conference win of the season. Remember, they defeated a better Ohio U. squad just three short weeks ago, 38-37. In what may very well be another 1-point affair, look for Buffi e to out-‘Smart’ the staggering hosts… outright!
FLORIDA over Georgia by 10
With Georgia barely cracking the BCS Top 25 and Florida nowhere in sight, the world’s ‘Largest Cocktail Party’ doesn’t have the luster from year’s past. Thankfully, though, that doesn’t stop these two SEC East combatants from hating each other. Yes, hate is a strong word but there really is no other ‘clean’ fi gure of speech that best describes this rivalry. Georgia has been down over the past few seasons and that hasn’t stopped the Gators from taking full advantage (3-0 SU & ATS last three). We know that Mark Richt would love to return the favor but we’re just not comfortable laying points this afternoon in Jacksonville. The Bulldogs have been favored four times in this series since 1992 and have not only NOT come away with an ATS cover (0-3-1), but they have won only ONE of those games in SU fashion. Yes, the Gators are struggling and it’s not often that they arrive anywhere off three SU and ATS losses. In fact, the only two times that they have showed up as dogs in this role since 1988, they responded with SU wins in both contests… and that ties in nicely to Richt’s 3-6 ATS log versus a foe off three losses in a row. First-year head coach Will Muschamp needs this game like the Colts need Peyton and he gets it as starting QB John Brantley returns to the lineup. Drink up as this DIA DIA (Dog in Action, Does It Again) improves to 6-0-2 ATS away from Gainesville as a dog off a SU favorite loss.
PITTSBURGH over New England by 10
As has been the case all season, will rest once again become rust for another NFL squad? We say yes, especially with Patriots’ HC Bill Belichick a surprising 4-12-2 ATS with extra time off in his career versus foe off a SU win… and that was before the whole CBA thing. This is also probably not the best spot for the Brady Bunch to be walking into as the Steelers are a mind-boggling 24-5 SU and 26-3 ATS in October with revenge. What’s even better in this matchup of AFC Super Bowl hopefuls for Steelers’ supporters is they get the Black and Gold in the rare role of home underdog. Remember – these two met in this building less than a year ago and it was Pitt who was a 4.5-point favorite. The roles have changed a little too much for our liking this season and we can’t help but back a team that is 6-1 ATS in its last seven tries as home dogs and one that is 22-5 ATS as dogs with revenge, including 5-0 ATS at home and 10-3 SU and 11-2 ATS with Big Ben at the helm. But is it wise going against mighty New England and making the Steelers our 5* Best Bet of the Week, you ask? In a nutshell, yes – especially with the league’s worst defense laying points into the league’s best. Like Steve Miller once said, “Take the money(line) and run!”
KANSAS CITY OVER SAN DIEGO by 8
It’s Halloween and you couldn’t fi nd a better treat then Norv showing up as a division road favorite. As it is, our aptly named PEEK-A-BOO angle from the 2004 BLACK BOOK reminds us that road favourites struggle in games when they have the defending Super Bowl champions on deck. In fact, teams in this role are just 9-24-2 ATS on the division highway. Couple that with KC’s 21-6-2 ATS record as division home dogs, 4-0-1 ATS log at home on Mondays off a SU win and HC Todd Haley’s 14-5 ATS mark as a dog versus a foe off a SU loss and there’ll no rotten apples in tonight’s pillow sheets. After a 0-3 start (outscored 109-27), including a loss to these same Chargers, the Chiefs ‘tricked’ people into believing they were a bad squad. However, we didn’t fall for it as we have backed them in each of their last three wins, including last week as a late-phone selection against Oakland. We’re calling for a fourth straight underdog win and a three-way share of the AFC West lead. Now, give us something good to snack on!