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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

MARC LAWRENCE: BEST COLLEGE & PRO UPSETS FOR THE WEEKEND OF OCTOBER 30-31

MICHIGAN ST over Michigan by 8

There’ll be no shortage of bruised and battered bodies heading to the post-game locker rooms when this 60-minute war comes to an end. Of the previous 113 games between these bitter rivals, just four have come when both were ranked in the top 10, with the last one in 1964. The last time they played each other as undefeated teams was in 2010, when they were each 5-0 (Spartans won, 34- 17). Quite honestly, after MSU head coach Mel Tucker made his debut last season with a 2-5 effort, we thought Sparty’s early success this year would quickly be replaced by failure once Big Ten play got underway. Wrong! Michigan State just keeps getting better with each game, and have upped last year’s numbers from 18 points and 331 yards per game on offense to 34.9 points and 451.7 yards per game. And let’s not forget the defense, which allowed 35 PPG in 2020, but has surrendered more than 21 points in only one contest this season. Michigan also suffered through last year’s COVID campaign, finishing 2-4, and opting out of their annual contest with hated Ohio State. Like ‘Little Brother’, the Wolverines have been smacking people around from the get-go, scoring a total of 141 in their first three games. Unfortunately, they also reside in Marc’s ‘Collision Course’ BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW column on page 2, which is not a good thing. Neither is the recent series dominance by Michigan State, who have gone 9-4 SU and 11-2 ATS in the last 13 meetings. Yes, Jim Harbaugh can call on revenge from last year’s 27-24 loss to the Spartans as 21-point home chalk, but the fact is Michigan has covered just once in its last five tries when playing with conference revenge. While the Wolverines have taken exceptional care of the football this season with only four turnovers in seven games, we look for a flying-all-over-the-fi eld MSU ‘D’ to force a few key errors that turn the tide in their favor. With that, we hand it over to THE CLINCHER: Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is 1-8 SU and 2-7 ATS away versus undefeated opponents.

MISSISSIPPI ST over Kentucky by 10.

Kentucky’s defense turned in one of the best performances of the Mark Stoops era against Mississippi State last season, shutting out a Mike Leach-coached offense for the first time in Leach’s career. Unfortunately, the Wildcats are banged up on the defensive line right now. Defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine will miss the rest of the season with a lower leg injury, and nose guard Marquan McCall missed the last game against Georgia with the same injury. In addition, the Cats are also the most recent victims of the dreaded ‘Bubble Burst’, having had their perfect season ruined two weeks ago in a loss at Georgia. Kentucky is also 1-4 ATS coming off a bye week, and after this Starkville trip, they must still face Tennessee and Louisville, so any hopes of a Top 10 finish after that 6-0 start (last accomplished in 1977) are quickly fading away. As for the Starkville Bulldogs, last year’s horror show in Lexington came in the midst of a 4-game losing skid, as the Dogs dropped a 24-2 decision to the Cats, the second-lowest point production by a Mike Leach team in his career. Revenge is tasty, but so is the Halloween candy that the Mad Professor munches on yearly, so there’s no doubt he should wake up to a plastic pumpkin full of candy corn and gummy bears tomorrow morning if he can pull off this upset. MSU has held four foes to season-low or second-low yards this season, but here’s THE CLINCHER: Leach is 4-2 SUATS at home off two previous home losses-exact, including 3-0 SUATS if .500 or greater.

Washington over STANFORD by 10

Once again, our “go-to guy” for statistics, the MIDWEEK ALERT, calls out the fact that the Cardinal have been drubbed ‘In The Stats’ this season, losing six of their seven games while being outgained by 57 YPG on the season. Conversely, the Huskies have won the stats in four of their seven contests, putting them on the positive side of the yardage wars. Until they upset Oregon here as an 8.5-point dog four weeks ago, the Tree was riding a 0-4 SUATS skein at The Farm. Look for the Cardinal to revert back to that form tonight. Meanwhile, the Huskies have taken care of business in this series, going 4-1-1 ATS off a win when Stanford is coming off a loss of 3 or more points. Washington is also 4-1 ATS as a conference dog coming off a SU win and a double-digit ATS loss. Those situations were all set up by an embarrassing first half (65 total yards and zero points) against Arizona, one of the very worst teams in the nation. This, very irritated Washington fans have been calling for back-up QB Sam Huard, but the truth is Dylan Morris got his act together just in time to pull out the win over the Cats. Still, this year’s 3-4 SU record indicates that Jimmy Lake is not the answer in Seattle. With the Huskies looking to avenge a pair of losses to Stanford over the past two seasons as double-digit favorites, we hand it off to THE CLINCHER: See Marc’s AWESOME ANGLE on page 2 for the 19-1 ATS winning angle inside this game.

NFL

MINNESOTA over Dallas by 10

It’s official. After failing to make the playoffs 5 of the last 6 years, and coming off a 6-win season last year, Dallas is now among the Top fi ve teams in the NFC this season. With it, the top five teams in the conference (Cardinals, Bucs, Packers, Cowboys, Rams) have a combined four losses, none with two. A part of their success this season has been their fast starts, with the Cowboys leading the league in first quarter scoring at 8.7 PPG. They’ll need to put their best foot forward tonight, though, as Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer is still frothing following last season’s 31-28 home loss to Dallas as 7-point chalk, a loss to backup QB Andy Dalton that snapped a 3-game Vikings win streak, as well as a 4-game Dallas losing skid. In the end it eventually cost the 7-9 Vikings a losing season. Now back at the scene of the crime, Minny will look to improve on its 10-2 ATS series ledger, while Zimmer looks to pad his 16-3-1 ATS career mark at home against .500 or greater non-division foes. The Boys’ 11-17 SU and 9-19 ATS record against NFC North foes since 2009 adds another log to the fi re. We turn up the heat, though with THE CLINCHER: 5-1 NFL teams in Game Seven, coming off five wins in a row, are 3-13 SU and 4-12 ATS since 1980 if not favored by more than 3 points, including 0-6 SUATS versus sub .600 opponents.

NEW ORLEANS over Tampa Bay by 10

Tom Brady’s 600th career touchdown pass came against the Justin Fields-led Bears last week, in a matchup of the largest QB age difference in NFL history (22 years). Yes, it was a mismatch from the get-go. In addition to boosting his regular-season career TD pass total to 602, the 44-year-old Brady has now thrown at least 20 TD passes in a season a record 19 times. He’s followed on the list by this group of “who’s who”: Drew Brees (17), Peyton Manning (16), Philip Rivers (15), and Brett Favre (15) – who are all retired. The Brady numbers become dizzying, and at some point we anticipate seeing some degree of regression. It actually happened in his final season with New England when he concluded the season with a career-low 55.7 QBR. But the move to Tampa was akin to finding the Fountain of Youth. Today, though, he takes on a team he knocked out of the NFC playoffs last season, and for that, we expect him to pay the piper. For openers, the Saints are 10-3-1 ATS as home dogs dating back to 2006, including 6-1-1 ATS with head coach Sean Payton. The Bourbon Street gang is also 5-0 SUATS in its last five regular season meetings with the Bucs.

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