Monday, December 31, 2012
College Bowl Upsets
Northwestern over Miss State by 3
While digging around in the college bowl archives, we came across this factoid: in 1975 there were only 11 bowl games played, and one of them was the Gator Bowl. This season’s version of one of the longest-running
bowl contests actually delivers what we think a bowl should be all about– a game between two evenly-matched teams who seldom meet on the playing fi eld. And since one of today’s participants belongs to the SEC,
they automatically assume the role of favorite here. We beg to disagree. Not only did Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats post just their 2nd 10-win season in school history, they also scorched the pointspread with a 10-1 ATS
effort (a far cry from NU’s 14-22 ATS mark over the previous three campaigns). Fitzgerald, who is amazingly the 2nd-longest tenured Big Ten head coach behind Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, is also itching to end his program’s 63-year winless bowl drought (last victory came in 1949 Rose Bowl). Both of today’s opponents struggled ‘In The Stats’ versus fellow bowl teams this season as the Bulldogs were -194 net YPG compared to the Wildcats -108 net YPG. However, Northwestern lands on the wrong side of Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen’s opponent performance ‘cut-line’ while at Starkville: he’s gone 28-3 SU and 18-9 ATS against sub .750 foes, but a woeful 1-18 SU and 5-14 ATS versus .750 or better adversaries. And despite Mullen leading his Bulldogs to an 8-win season and third straight bowl appearance, MSU notched a 0-4 SUATS and ITS mark versus fellow bowlers this year. With Big Ten bowlers now 10-4 ATS against an SEC foe off a SUATS loss and the Wildcats owning a 5-1 ATS record against winning opponents in 2012, we can’t pass up a quality dog like Northwestern here. It doesn’t happen often in the animal world but this looks like one of those occasions where the Cats actually get the better of the Dogs.
Northern Illionois over Florida State by 1
Most times, bowl games are all about motivation – which team wants it more or has something to prove. Well, the Huskies show up in Miami tonight with PLENTY to prove. Let’s start with reaction to the BCS Selection Show when Northern Illinois was selected over several highprofile teams to play in the Orange Bowl. “I love MAC football, but to put them in the BCS is an absolute JOKE to the rest of those teams that are more deserving,” said ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. “I can’t believe we’re even having this discussion.” The oddsmakers agreed, initially installing Florida State as a 15-point favorite, the 2nd-highest spread in this year’s bowl lineup. Hey, we think the real systematic failure is not the inclusion of Northern Illinois but the fact that Georgia Tech, had they won the ACC title game over FSU, would be playing in this game with a 7-6 record! It’s true that the Seminoles destroy bowl foes if they enter off a loss to Florida (11-1-1 SU and 10-2-1 ATS) but what we should really be focusing on is current head coach Jimbo ‘I think the BCS is retarded’ Fisher and his 2-5 SU and 1-6ATS failure against .800 or better opponents. Yes, FSU’s athletic defense held seven foes to season-low yards this year but they’ll have to be on their game to stop NIU QB Jordan Lynch, who led the nation in rushing with 1,733 yards. Our database doesn’t consider a pick on the Huskies as being far-fetched, noting that: bowl teams off a conference championship game win with a win percentage of .923 or better are 10-0 ATS since
1980 when facing an opponent that allows 14 > PPG – winning every game STRAIGHT-UP. The lean machine also warns us to beware of a MAC attack as all MAC bowl teams off a win are 9-2 ATS against .60 or better opponents off a win while greater-than .666 MAC bowlers (like NIU) off a win are an eye-popping 11-1 SU and 10-1-1 ATS. With 24 players from South Florida on the roster, FSU will should feel right at home in Sun Life Stadium but that won’t over come the fact that the Seminoles’ stats slipped -64 net YPG during the second half of the season while the Huskies improved +73 net YPG over the same span. Call it poetic justice: NIU’s most famous grad is Dan Castellaneta – the voice of Homer Simpson – so don’t be surprised when the cameras close in on Jimbo Fisher during the waning moments and he delivers the DOH!!! heard round the college football world after the Seminoles fall. Look out South Beach – here come the Sled Dogs!
Oklahoma over Texas A&M by 4
These two teams know one another from A&M’s days in the Big 12 so the feeling here is Big Game Bob has a message to deliver with the Aggies bolting out of the B12 in favor of the SEC. But let’s face it – with a new
coaching staff led by Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M far exceeded expectations in its fi rst season in the nation’s toughest conference. The Aggies’ only two losses in 2012 came at the hands of SEC foes Florida (by 3 points) and LSU (by 5 points) and A&M provided its fans with a pair of memorable achievements. First, when they strode into Tuscaloosa back in November 10 and dominated No. 1 Alabama, rolling to a 20-0 lead and then hanging on for the monumental 29-24 upset. The second, of course, occurred not quite three weeks ago when Aggies QB Johnny Manziel became the fi rst freshman player ever to walk away with the Heisman Trophy. Seldom do the Sooners arrive at a BCS bowl while being competely overlooked but that feels like the case here: A&M off a wildly successful campaign playing before a Texas-heavy crowd at Cowboys Stadium against an Oklahoma squad whose 10-2 effort was widely viewed as disappointing. Now the real question becomes can A&M maintain its season-long momentum after a lengthy layoff? We say no… not against the Sooners. Oklahoma has won 10 of the last 12 battles between these two SU and was favored in every one of those contests. With OU taking points here, our database informs us that HC Bob Stoops is a no-nonsense 10-2 ATS as a dog off back-to-back wins. He’s also logged a 22-6 SU and 19-9 ITS mark versus bowlers over the past three seasons. But the big negative for the Aggies here is the dreaded ‘Heisman Jinx.’ Heisman Trophy winning bowl squads are just 6-20 ATS vs greater than .667 foes, including a mind-boggling 1-11 ATS versus an opponent off consecutive wins. Postseason play has also not been kind to A&M as its win over Northwestern in last year’s Meineke Bowl snapped an ugly 0-5 SUATS bowl losing streak. Johnny Football may get all the press before this game but look for more the more experienced Landry Jones, and all of his
achievements, to win today’s quarterback duel before heading off to the NFL. Okies bag their fi fth win this season in the Lone Star State.
Written by Marc Lawrence
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Friday, December 14, 2012
Marc Lawrence’s NFL Upsets Dec. 16-17
NY GIANTS OVER ATLANTA by 10
With the Giants holding a precarious one-game lead in the NFC East and both the Cowboys and Redskins snapping at their heels, don’t ook for Big Blue to let up this week. The Falcons got knocked off their lofty perch last week at Carolina in Marc’s NFL Game of the Month call but we won’t be riding the bounce-back train today. Sure, we realize Matty Ice is murder in games off a loss (17-4 ATS) and at home (32-5 SU and 23-13-1 ATS) but he’s only 2-3 ATS here in December. His counterpart, Eli Manning, who has posted an excellent 19-6 ATS mark from December out versus non-division foes, actually owns a better road record in his NFL career (40-28 SU and 42-24-2 ATS) than a home record (41-30 SU and 34-36-1 ATS). And when it comes to team ATS stats, there’s simply no comparison. The Giants have cashed in six of the last seven series meetings away from the Meadowlands and boast a 17-4-1 ATS record on the road versus a squad off a double-digit loss (6-0 ATS from Game Fourteen out). Tom Coughlin’s crew is also a heady 20-5 SU and 20-4-1 ATS versus a .666 or better opponent with revenge, including 13-1 ATS as pick or dog and 11-1 ATS away. Whew! Sunday’s 52-point outburst against the ‘Aints was New York’s biggest since 1986, and the last time the Giants erupted for 50 points in a game they followed it up by trouncing the 49ers, 49-3, in a playoff game. In a marquee matchup where we feel the wrong team is favored, we’ll back the hungrier dog today.
TAMPA BAY OVER NEW ORLEANS BY 10
Bucs have got to be despondent, dejected and just about any other d-word we can come up with to describe the lingering effects of their last-second home loss to woeful Philadelphia. But even though the swashbucklers have been tossed overboard in their last two games and need this contest like blood to stay in the NFC Wild Card chase, the Bay boys are the very picture of psychological health compared to the reeling Saints, who are now just 5-8 after three SUATS setbacks in a row (not even unlimited bounties could help now). Home fi eld may be a true advantage for some teams today but the Mercedez-Benz Superdome has been nothing short of a house of horrors for New Orleans. Ready? In ‘4th quarter games’ (Games Thirteen thru Sixteen) off a non-division foe at home, the Saints really are ‘Aints, going 1-12 ATS. When asked to march in after a double-digit loss, the Crescent City crew has stumbled to a 7-21 ATS mark as home chalk, including 1-11 ATS against a foe off back-to-back losses. And if the Who Dats are entertaining an avenging NFC South opponent off a SU loss, they sink to 4-17 ATS – including 0-8 ATS in the last eight games. Damn, if this were an ‘ugly’ pageant, we’d stop the show and award the crown right now! But we’ve always got time for a clincher from ou database: Game Fourteen 6-7 division dogs off a loss are 9-2 ATS since 1980, including 5-1 ATS when seeking revenge. Hey, it’s not often you get to buck a going-through-themotions favorite that has covered only twice in the last nine series meetings – while having overwhelming historical trends and current situationals on your side, to boot. A geuine Bourbon Street fade.
BUFFALO OVER SEATTLE BY 10
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll had some ‘splainin’ to do Sunday after his offense continued to pass the ball deep and go for it on 4th down while owning a 50-point lead over the hapless Cardinals. Rest assured, if Arizona’s Ken Whisenhunt is back next year (doubtful), he’ll have the Seahawks games circled in red ink! Regardless of his tactics, Carroll and the Seahawks are closing strong with a 4-1 SUATS run and now travel to the Great White North (Canada) to take on struggling Buffalo. This little jaunt is nothing new for the Bills as they’re playing their 5th game in Toronto at the Rogers Centre (beat the Redskins 23-0 here in 2011), a venue where they’ve allowed just 14 PPG in regular season contests. Our MIDWEEK ALERT also comes to Buffy’s aid, pointing out that the Bills are +56 net YPG over the 2nd half of the season. Across the fi eld, the ever-youthful Carroll (is this guy a modern-day Dorian Gray or what?) is 0-5 ATS as non-division chalk from Game Thirteen out and his Seabags are a lifeless 0-8 ATS as road favorites off a division game. And though we’ve already got suffi cient ammo to sink him, Carroll turns out to be the answer to this week’s TRIVIA TEASER on page 2. No question that Seattle QB Russell Wilson is enjoying a stellar season but Fab 5 starting rookie QB’s are just 2-5 SU and 1-5-1 ATS as favorites away from home in 2012 – plus eight of Wilson’s nine interceptions have come on the road. Our database cements it with this beauty: teams off a win of 54 or more points
in this league are 1-4 SUATS in their next contest since 1980. With season-ending division duels against the Niners and Rams on deck, it would be no surprise to see the Hawks get their wings clipped here.
Written by Marc Lawrence
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Friday, December 07, 2012
College & Pro Upsets Dec. 8-10
Army over Navy by 1
If you’re a hardcore fan of option-offense football, you’ll be in hog heaven here with CBS’s telecast of the 113th Army-Navy game, a contest that is curiously being promoted this year as ‘America’s Game.’ But if you’re like most of us who fi nd this matchup to be barely relevant and downright boring, you’ll be going AWOL to track down a decent college basketball game to watch. Regardless of your viewing preferences, you should know the main motivation for today’s skirmish is possession of the Commander-In-Chief Trophy, something Army has failed to accomplish since 1996. Students of military history will be quick to point out that the drought will probably continue as Navy has won 10 straight series clashes on the fi eld. But we think the ATS outcome – and even the SU result – is clearly in doubt. Though the Middies stand 13-3 ATS versus the foot soldiers when they own the better seasonal win percentage, the seagoers have sprung a leak of late versus the Vegas line. They’re a poor 2-11 ATS against sub .400 foes over the last three campaigns (0-5 ATS this year) and an even worse 1-9 ATS their last 10 tries as pick or favorite, including 0-4 ATS in 2012. Shiver me timbers! Despite its feeble 2-9 SU effort this year, Army leads the land in rushing with 370 YPG, a meaningful stat because the Midshipmen are 0-5 ATS as chalk in games where they allow 125 or more rushing yards. These two teams played one common opponent this season – Air Force – and both emerged victorious to set up today’s CIC title game. However, a big edge goes to Army: the Black Knights won 41-21 as 7-points dogs and also won the stats 414-338, while Navy won 28-21 in overtime as 8-point dogs but lost the stats by a
whopping 507-359. Though series history stacks up in the Middies’ favor, the bottom line here is Navy has a bowl bid in its back pocket and the coveted Commander-In-Chief prize makes this Army’s bowl game. Take
the points with the underdog infantry in this bombshell in Philly today.
TENNEESSEE over Indy by 6
Playoffs? What playoffs? Yes, if the Colts can hang on to one of the fi nal two playoff spots, it won’t be long until ESPN cracks open the Jim Mora Vault. Actually with two games still left against division-leading Houston,
Indy may still have its sights set on the AFC South. That may seem a bit ambitious, as should the thought of an easy win this afternoon against struggling Tennessee, but Titans’ head coach Mike Munchak answers the
call in this week’s TRIVIA TEASER. Sure, the Titans have dropped four of their last fi ve SU and ATS but they did put a scare into the Colts on Halloween weekend in a 19-13 overtime loss. And while that Indianapolis
win wasn’t as ‘Lucky’ as last week’s miracle in Motown (down 12 with under three minutes to play), it did require Andrew Luck to lead his troops on an 80-yard game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter to force the extra
session. In fact, in that game we used the Colts as a 3* Newsletter Best Bet. With the Titans 10-1 ATS as dogs in the fourth quarter of the season (Games Thirteen-Sixteen) versus an opponent off back-to-back SU and ATS wins, and Indy 0-11 ATS as chalk in these ‘fourth quarter’ games after scoring 35 or more points, we’re ‘all out of love’ for the hosts today in Lucas Oil Stadium. But unlike Air Supply, we’re not alone with our head on the phone as we know the Colts are 1-6 ATS as division favorites of more than 3 points off a SU dog win and that the fi ve rookie starting signal-callers (Luck, Griffin, Tannehill, Weeden and Wilson) are just 6-10-1 ATS as chalk this campaign. Our MIDWEEK ALERT also informs us that – despite its recent SU and ATS struggles – the Titans have improved +51 net YPG in the stats from Game Seven out. Grab the points as the ‘ChuckStrong’ movement hits a temporary road block in Naptown today.
DETROIT over Green Bay by 3
These Lions may not be cowardly but they could be in need of a new heart after dropping back-to-back gutwrenchers (lost to Indy last Sunday with no time left on the clock). Still, their stats outshine the Packers: Detroit is
winning games by an average 49 YPG this season thanks to a 9-3 ITS mark in 2012. In addition, Detroit has outgained the Cheeseheads in each of the last fi ve meetings in this series. Equally impressive is the jungle kings’7-1 SU effort in the last 8 games of the previous two seasons, including 4 SU pick/underdog wins. As implausible as it may seem, the 435 yards the Packers gained in last week’s win over Minnesota was Green Bay’s high for the season. Not so lofty is the Pack’s 2-9 ATS log as a home favorite of 13 or fewer points versus an avenging division opponent off consecutive losses, or their 0-5 ATS failure when tangling with .333 or less foes (0-4 ATS in 2012). Yeah, the Motor City men look to be in the right role tonight and our database clinches it with this beauty: NFL Sunday night division dogs with revenge off losses in their last 3 games are 9-1 ATS when coming off a non-division defeat. That ought to pay for a heart transplant right there! Time to get in step with the Lions and ease on down the road to Lambeau…
Written by Marc Lawrence
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping