Friday, December 02, 2011
Marc Lawrence College & Pro Upsets Dec. 3-4
Ohio U over No Illinois by 3
A pair of 9-3 teams go at it in a MAC title game that might actually be worth tuning in to see. At best, it’s a showcase of ‘double-deuce’ offenses– units gaining 200+ yards both rushing and passing – as Ohio averages 212 RYPG and 250 PYPG compared to NIU’s 255 and 233 YPG, respectively. At worst, it’s an opportunity for two programs that have been left at the altar in previous conference championship appearances to fi nally hoist the trophy. This Friday evening trip to Detroit marks the Bobcats’ third chance at the overall league title in seven seasons under current head coach Frank Solich (1-1 ATS) while the Huskies have lost and failed to cover MAC title games in 2005 and 2010. Last year’s defeat was particularly exasperating for Northern Illinois: coping with the news that then-head coach Jerry Kill would be leaving DeKalb to take over the top spot at Minnesota, the 19-point favorite sled dogs were stunned by Miami Ohio, 26-21. This year, however, NIU mushes to Motown riding a seven-game SU win streak and planning to pay back Ohio for a 38-31 loss in their last meeting (2009). The Bobbies boast a current fi ve-game win skein of their own and have cashed in the last three meetings with the Huskies. The boys from Athens can also claim a spotless 5-0 ATS record as Weekday dogs and a 5-1 ATS mark as underdogs of 6 or fewer points. In addition, our database leans to the Bobcats as it tells us dogs in MAC title games are a toothsome 7-1-1 ATS versus a foe off a SU win. Don’t be surprised if this game goes down to the wire: six of Ohio’s eight conference games were one-possession affairs decided by a combined total of just 23 points – and fi ve of those were decided in the fi nal minute of play! Tough to buck a Northern Illinois team that’s committed a paltry three turnovers in its last fi ve games but we’ll go with the green-and-white to grab the green in 2011’s leadoff conference title showdown.
Iowa St over KANSAS ST by 1
You probably didn’t see this one coming. Yes, we realize that the 6-5 Cyclones have very little to play for while the Wildcats are looking for their fi rst 10-win season since 2003 and a possible at-large invite to a BCS bowl game. However, our MIDWEEK ALERT reminds us that K-State hasn’t been as ‘AWESOME’ as one would think this season and our ‘Cross Dresser’ ditty on page 2 cements it. In fact, the Manhattan Cats look to be the phoniest 9-2 team to come down the pike in quite some time. Not only is Bill Snyder’s squad 1-8 ‘In the Stats’ the last nine games, they have been outgained by an average of 60 YPG on the season. And to top it off, Iowa State holds a 53-YPG net advantage against eight common opponents played this campaign. Our PLAYBOOK.com database further reminds us that ISU is 5-2 ATS as double-digit dogs with conference revenge and 4-1 ATS on the road after dealing with Oklahoma while the Wildcats are 0-3 ATS as double-digit chalk in LHG’s and 0-3 ATS after tangling with Texas
versus a foe off back-to-back ATS wins. And while our NCAA Coaches League even has a say in the matter as Cyclones’ HC Paul Rhoads owns eight SU underdog wins (four this season) in his three years with ISU. In addition, Rhoads is a steady 6-1 ATS as a double-digit dog versus an opponent off a SU and ATS win. The clincher, though, once again comes from our powerful database as it notes: Iowa State is 10-1 ATS with triple revenge-exact versus a foe off a SU win, including 5-0 ATS if the foe arrives with back-to-back SU victories. Yes, Kansas State has a ‘real’ 9-1 ATS ledger this campaign but that brings plenty of value to a double-digit blue-collar dog that doesn’t have a phony ‘bone’ in its body. As Eddie Albert said, “Keep Manhattan but give me that countryside”… outright!
DETROIT over New Orleans by 3
Originally, it was supposed to be the Colts and the Pats featured in this Sunday night contest but thankfully NBC called off the horses and replaced that 21-point mismatch with this important NFC showdown. The Lions suddenly fi nd themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture but a win tonight in the Superdome would give them at least a leg up over the Saints in the wild card race should the Falcons wind up winning the South. We’re certain that the Lions don’t want to get in a shootout with Brees and company (just ask the Giants) and they’ll count on a defense that has held two of three foes (Bears and Packers) to season-low yards since their Bye week. And while New Orleans’ 0-4 ATS log after a Monday night game along with HC Sean Payton’s 2-9 ATS mark as a favorite versus a .500 or greater opponent off a SU loss clearly tells us that the Lions stay within the number,Detroit’s 6-1 SU and 5-1-1 ATS record in its last seven road games says the outright win is within reach. As does the Lions’ 5-3 SU and ATS mark in this series when taking points, along with a 6-3 SU record in their last nine Dome games. Suh or not, we’ll look for the visitors to stomp the hosts – and we’re not offering up any apologies!
NY GIANTS over Green Bay by 6
With three home games and only a road trip to KC left on the slate, it appears as if the G-Men are the only thing standing in the way of Green Bay’s perfect regular season. And wouldn’t it be apropos if theGiants spoiled the Packers 2011 campaign? After all, if they didn’t blow a 21-point lead with less than nine minutes to play against the Eagles in Week 14 last season, the Packers would have never even made the playoffs. While we know it’s getting old trying to beat the Pack week in and week out, our MIDWEEK ALERT is not about to give up. Unless you subscribe, you probably didn’t realize that GB is 1-5 ‘ITS’ over its last six games, allowing season high – or 2nd high –yards in fi ve of those contests. And while the Giants’ 12-8 SU and 13-7 ATS record after playing on Monday, along with Tom Coughlin’s 11-8 SU and 12-5-3 ATS mark versus .1000 opposition (including 2-1 SU
and 3-0 ATS as a home dog) is all good, the real gem comes from our database: since 1980, undefeated NFL teams from Game Twelve out are 17-8 SU and 7-18 ATS, including 0-6 ATS away versus non-division opposition. Yes, we realize that the Pack played last Thursday while the Giants played this past Monday but teams with this added rest advantage are only 10-9 ATS since 1982. And then there were none.
Written by John Pricci
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Saturday, November 26, 2011
College & Pro Upsets November 26-27
TULSA OVER HOUSTON by 10
We’ve said from Week One that we felt the Cougars, with the reof Case Keenum, could run the table. Of course, most of that was due to a Charmin-soft schedule as we noted in Houston’s Team Theme from our PLAYBOOK Handicapper’s Yearbook that the Cougars would face only one FBS foe this season that ended 2010 with a winning record. Well, that foe is here now. In fact, we have Tulsa listed as one of the teams to keep an eye on in our 2011 Top 10 ATS Teams preview. And the Golden Hurricane haven’t disappointed with a 7-4 ATS log, including fi ve straight covers. Yes, the Cougars have chewed up losing teams (12-2 ATS last 14) but they have struggled mightily versus .500 or greater foes (3-11-1 ATS last 15, including 1-7 ATS when Houston is off back-to-back wins). And that’s not even the most alarming stat! As well as being an ‘As the Noose Tightens’ SMART BOX fade, and a ‘Kick in the Assets’ (Issue #10) prime play against’, the Coogs are a jaw-dropping 1-18 SU in their last 19 road games in which they allow more than 30 points. And as luck would have it (and we’re not talking Andrew) the Hurricane has scored more than 30 points in each of its last 12 home games. Now that ties in nicely! Almost as much as Tulsa’s 6-1 ATS log in LHG’s to Houston’s winless 0-7 ATS mark in LRG’s over that same span. Now we don’t want to completely dismiss a team we have built up all season long so we must point out that the Cougars do own a healthy10-2 ATS mark with conference revenge. However, this wouldn’t be 5* BEST BET if we couldn’t negate that number and we think a Golden 6-1 ATS mark as conference home favorites/home dogs of 4 or less points – along with an 11-3 ATS record versus .666 or greater league opposition – does more than enough. For the Conference USA West cheese, we’re going to smile with Tulsa as they improve to 4-2 SU and 5-1 ATS lifetime in this series. And then there was ‘one’ (and possibly ‘none’ if you talk to Arkansas fans)!
Pittsburgh over WEST VIRGINIA by 3
It may be easier fi guring out who Kim Kardashian’s next husband will be (at least we can remove all non-athletic Jewish white guys from the equation for openers) than sorting out the Big East. No less than five teams sit atop the loop, each with two conference losses, and just a handful of games remaining. In fact, with NO teams in the BCS Top 25, it looks like the Big ‘Least’ may not get an automatic BCS berth this bowl season. With two of those ‘contenders’ squaring off in Morgantown, some questions will be answered, most importantly this week’s TRIVIA TEASER (see page 2) as Pitt HC Todd Graham is murder in today’s role. His Panthers are also a perfect 9-0 ATS as road dogs with conference revenge and 5-0 ATS with revenge off a SU dog win. And that ‘ties the knot’ to WVU’s 1-7 ATS mark as a favorite off a SU win with revenge and a 2-6 ATS log for the series favorite. Lest we forget, Pitt’s overall stats from Game Seven out are +41 net YPG whilethe Mounties are -93 net YPG over the same time span. Well, at ‘least’ this part has been solved. Grab the hook but we don’t think you’ll need it as that tempting money line is also worth a look. If you think the ‘Cats can win this one outright, just say ‘I do.’ We did.
N’WESTERN over Michigan St by 1
Are there any bullets left in Michigan State’s guns after last Saturday’s 55-point outburst? Perhaps, but since Sparty clinched a berth in the Big Ten’s inaugural title game with its 52-point walkover win at home against the barefoot Hoosiers, this sure looks like a good spot for a breather.Northwestern, however, will not be taking its foot off the gas. The hardcharging Wildcats won their 4th straight game and gained bowl eligibility last week with a win-no cover against Minnesota – so they’ll be looking to enhance their bowl standing with an upset win today. It’s no impossible dream: three weeks ago Pat Fitzgerald’s ‘Cats clawed their way to a 28-25 win over Nebraska at Lincoln as 17.5-point underdogs. The ATS archives suggest those claws may need little or no sharpening to maintain their edge. NU has covered fi ve of its last six ‘Last Home Games’ and owns a surprising 5-2 ATS series edge over Mark Dantonio’s Spartans. By comparison, Michigan State is just 2-7 ATS in its Last Road Game of the reason and has struggled following a blowc win, going 1-4 ATS off a SU victory of 40+ points. A dose of triple revenge for the home team seals the deal. And down goes Sparty!
MIDDLE TENN ST over Florida Int’l by 1
A tale of two seasons: FIU (7-4) has reeled off consecutive wins to salvage an otherwise disappointing campaign while MTSU has been lost in the wilderness since Game One (four straight losses to fall to 2-8). However, this trip to Murfreesboro marks the 5th road game in seven weeks for the Traveling Panther Show and we don’t like laying points on the road with ateam off a SU underdog win in which they were outgained – especially at a venue where they have NEVER won. Yes, the prowling cats will be looking to even the score for last season’s 1-point loss to Middle Tennessee in FIU’s fi nal home game of 2010 but with MTSU having won only once all year at Red Floyd Stadium (over lowly Memphis), you know Rick Stockstill’s boys will be hell-bent on closing out the year with a victory if front of friends and family. The Raiders may have lost the Ark but with a 3-0 SU and ATS effort of late in LHG’s, we look for them to fi nd the scepter in this home finale. Blue Man Group, outright.
INDIANOPOLIS over Carolina by 7
Like in every fairy tale we were ever told, nightmares eventually come to an end. In the Colts’ case, this season it isn’t a fabrication… it’s an improbable nightmare come true. The loss of all-world QB Peyton Manning has hit this team harder than any punch ever thrown, leaving a black eye on a once proud program. The question is will the Bye Week work wonders or is it a team beyond repair? According to our powerful database, the answer is the former as it notes that winless teams with a week of rest from Game Five out are 17-12 SU and 23-5-1 ATS since 1980, including 13-1 ATS when playing off a spread loss of 6 or more points. Yes, these ‘Ugly Pigs’ have been famous for bringing home the bacon and we’ll stand fi rst in line as we fade a struggling Carolina squad that is riding a 0-3 SU and ATS losing streak of its own.The Panthers are also riding a 0-12 SU winless streak of their own away from home. Look for a happy ending for fans in Naptown here today when Carolina falls to 1-5 SU and ATS as favorites of 3 or more points as this fable plays out just the way it was scripted.
Written by John Pricci
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping
Saturday, November 19, 2011
College & Pro Upsets November 19-20
Arizona over ARIZONA ST by 3
Outside of the NFL Cardinals, it was not a good week for Arizona football. Both the Sun Devils and Wildcats lost SU as double-digit road chalk. ASU’s second straight choke job now leaves them on the outside looking in at the Pac-12 South Division race as they no longer control their own destiny – and puts us in a quandary as whether to lay doubles with this beleaguered bunch. Thankfully, our PLAYBOOK.com database clears the issue as it notes: teams heading back on the road off a double-digit SU road loss as a favorite are 27-11-1 ATS versus a foe off a SU loss, including 7-0 ATS when taking more than 6 points. On the fl ip side, teams returning home as conference favorites after that surprising loss are just 1-9 ATS when hosting an opponent of a SU favorite loss. Wow, that certainly came together nicely. In fact, so perfect that, with the help of our INCREDIBLE STAT OF THE WEEK on page three, we can confi dently make this our Upset Special.Mix in ‘Zona’s 5-1 ATS mark in LRG’s along with a series history that shows the Wildcats 8-6-1 SU and 11-4 ATS in Tempe since 1981 and we think you’ll agree that the juicy money line in this one is certainly worth a strong look. The points are a must, however, as the Devils don’t get their due.
E CAROLINA over Ucf by 1
More than most programs that have fallen short of expectations this year, UCF will look back on 2011 as a season of ‘what-ifs.’ On the heels of an 11-3 campaign (including a bowl win over Georgia) and loaded with a wealth of offensive talent, George O’Leary’s Knights looked fully capable of defending their CUSA championship. However, it was not to be. Puzzling losses to the likes of Florida International and UAB have left the Knights with a precarious 4-5 record, needing wins here and next week at home versus UTEP to gain 6-win bowl-eligible status. And though UCF has played better recently in narrow losses to Tulsa and Southern Miss, asking this team to win out may be putting too much pressure on a squad that’s slipped 76 net YPG in the stats since the opening month of the season. Like the Knights, ECU needs wins in its fi nal two games to return to the alleys and our ATS archives say they’ve got a shot here. Not only have the Pirates won four of the last five meetings outright, they’ve also compiled a 5-2 SU and ATS mark when playing in their Last Home Game. With Ruffi n McNeill’s offense starting to catch fi re of late (477 YPG in last four outings), we’ll call for ECU to hoist the Jolly Roger while scuttling UCF’s post-season hopes today.
TENNESSEE over Vanderbilt by 6
Despite going winless in the SEC this year and getting pummeled by an average score of 35-6 in his last four conference games, Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley has managed to convince Volunteer nation that their team is showing gradual signs of improvement. Until Sunday night, that is, when the Vegas linemakers installed Vandy as the favorite in Saturday’s
game at Neyland Stadium. WTF? The Commies are just 2-27 SU in this series since 1983, they’ve been favored only ONCE (lost that game SU), and they’ve been double-digit dogs in each of their last 14 visits to Knoxville! Still, Vanderbilt has outplayed the linemaker for fi ve straight weeks (5-0 ATS) and needs a win here or next week at Wake Forest to reach just its second bowl game since Y2K. Things are considerably more shaky for Dooley as his Vols need victories today and next week at Kentucky to hit the alleys. Don’t discount the possibility as Tennessee surged to four season-ending victories in 2010 to gain a spot in the Music City Bowl (and if the number remains at Vandy minus 1.5 points or higher, UT won’t even have to win to cash a ticket). The Commies have covered three in a row at Rocky Top but that’s when they were getting 11, 12 and 17 points. Underdog Tennessee might also get a big boost with the expected return of QB Tyler Bray from a broken thumb suffered over a month ago against Georgia. We feel the Volunteers’ tougher schedule – lined opponents are a whopping 53-27 SU this season – and vocal support from unwavering UT fans will prove to be the difference.
WASHINGTON ST over Utah by 3
Don’t tell the 4-6 Cougars that they’ll be home for the holidays for the eighth straight season as they feel a win this afternoon against the Utes, and next week at rival Washington, is achievable. Our database agrees – at least for this week, anyway – as it notes: conference home dogs off a SU home dog win of 7 or more points as a double-digit dog are 9-8 SU and 13-4 ATS. And that ties in nicely to Utah’s 2-7 ATS log as favorites of 13 or less points versus Pac10/12 foes. As it is, the Utes are a little too up-and down for our liking (especially when laying points) and that bowl-clinching win last week against UCLA just may fi nd them a little bit too ‘up’ (and not in a good way if you know what we mean) for this conference road finale. Our Midweek also reminds us that Utah’s last two wins were of the ‘phony’ variety as they have lost the ‘ITS’ battle in each of those contests. Yes, we realize that the last time the Cougars won back-to-back conference games (2006), then-Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a lawyer while quail hunting in southern Texas and Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging (probably should have took the lawyer with him). The bottom line is we say toss out the Elvis Christmas CD – you know the one that says ‘I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me.’ Cougars, outright!
BUFFALO over Miami by 7
Say it ain’t so. Tony Sparano at home in back-to-back chalk roles, off a home win, no less. You read it right and with it, we’re prepared to snap the rubber band. After all, the mafi a-wannabe was 0-7 ATS in his career as a favorite in games off a SU and ATS win until his team managed to squeak past the wretched Redskins here in this very same role last week. Meanwhile, the Bills hit South Beach knowing they are 10-0 ATS in games off back-to-back losses against an opponent they most recently defeated. Toss in Chan Gailey’s garish 4-2 SU and 5-1 ATS career mark in games off two losses-exact and we’re prepared to take anything the man is offering. Sure, the Miami defense has not allowed a touchdown in its last two games, but neither of those foes (28th ranked Kansas City and 27th ranked Washington) possesses an offense close to Buffalo’s. Thwack!
San DIego over Chicago by 10
We know if you play with Norv, you get burned. In fact, we may have just patented that motto. However, it’s not too often you get the Chargers as dogs these days (just seven times in three years) and we feel this is one opportunity we can’t pass up. The Bolts are a modest 4-3 ATS when taking points over that span but there’s far more reason to be charged up about this bunch today in Soldier Field. For starters, the Bears are coming off a huge beatdown of division-rival Detroit (1-5 ATS home after the Lions) and are 0-6-1 ATS as a home favorite off a previous home game. They’re also 0-7 ATS versus a .400 or greater foe off back-to-back SU losses. And take notice of this little palindrome (well sort of): the Bears are 1-11-1 ATS off back-to-back SU wins versus an opponent off back-to-back SU losses while the Chargers are 11-2 ATS away off back-to-back SU losses versus a foe off back-to-back SU wins. Diego is also 10-1 ATS as a road dog in the month of November off a favorite role. We know this is going to sound like a broken record but the Bolts own both the better offense and better defense in this contest. And though this certainly is no palindrome, a big L-E-T-D-O-W-N is in store for the Windy City faithful. We know our credit is good, so we’ll ‘Charge’ this one, hard.
Written by John Pricci
can also be found at Playbook.com
- One Click Handicapping