By Marc Lawrence, PlaybookSports.com — As of this posting, here are three college and two NFL upsets to ponder this weekend:
PENN STATE over Michigan by 6
Michigan finally begins their regular season with a road game in Happy Valley but is anyone talking about Michigan football or is the focus on the Wolverines’ alleged methods for gaining an advantage. (Side note: you do realize U of M isn’t the only one doing this, right? They were just both bold and sloppy enough to get noticed) This game is so huge, we’re invoking “triple not-so-secret my friends’ probation”. The recent storm in Ann Arbor will have one of two effects, unite Michigan into an unbeatable monster, or rattle them into defeat because they are on trial in the court of both the Big 10 and public opinion. The prosecution begins with The Well-Oiled Machine, pointing out 9-0 teams hitting the road for Game 10 are 30-47-1 ATS since 1982 including 6-20-1 ATS when facing teams with competent defenses, giving up 20.5 ppg or fewer. Sidebar: The Nittany Lions are 4-0 ATS with double conference revenge. James Franklin is 15-5-1 ATS at home with conference vengeance on the evidence table, including 6-2 SU and 6-1-1 ATS with a win percentage of .800. We spy with our little eyes Michigan in this week’s THE SMART BOX as a big-time fade, but we realize to win our case, we need a Perry Mason-like clincher. Oh, wait…we have THE CLINCHER: Penn State is 8-3 SU against undefeated opponents under James Franklin when the Lions allow fewer than 12 PPG including 7-0 by an average win of 22.4 PPG. Who even knows if Jim Harbaugh will be on the sidelines for any more Michigan games this season, or ever again? If Michigan pulls this W off, and somehow blows out Penn State, then they are a truly frightening team. Add up all the evidence for this weekend, though and the verdict is Guilty, Guilty, Guilty. That’s a “Doonesbury” reference and we’re pretty confi dent that’s never been done in the Playbook before. You’re welcome.
Texas Tech over KANSAS by 7
Yes, KU has been our friend more than once this season, and yes, they ended about a 10,000-game losing streak (approximately) to Oklahoma this fall. They’re on fire, having followed up the OU win with a mildly controversial victory over Iowa State. What’s not to love about the Jayhawks? This: After playing the Cyclones, KU is 0-6 SU and 1-4-1 ATS plus they’re also 1-4 ATS the week before Kansas State and in this series versus TTU, the Jayhawks are 3-7 ATS in the last 10. Kansas hasn’t beaten Texas Tech since 2019. The 4-5 Red Raiders have three shots left in their Guns Up to make a bowl game, and the other two are UCF and Texas. Not only should that motivate Tech, but this being a Big 12 revenge game adds more mesquite to the meat, with TTU 10-1 ATS in the last 11 versus conference revenge. Tech is also 5-1-1 ATS as conference dogs of 7 points or fewer. TTU QB Behren Morton, probably the first “Behren” to start a football game in NCAA history, has thrown for 978 yards and 10 scores over the last five games after replacing the injured Tyler Shough and Tech has three receivers with 300 plus yards, making keying in on one wideout a difficult and likely fruitless decision. The Red Raiders are another DIA DIA dog, too with strong support from THE CLINCHER on page 3 in the INCREDIBLE STAT. We remind KU supporters not to be angry with us; this is business, not personal, and they’re taking it very personally. You don’t want to get your brains all over your nice Big 12 suit.
Appalachian State over GEORGIA STATE by 10
We are bringing the lumber to this contest, quickly pointing out a major GSU fl aw, being 0-9 SU and 2-7 ATS. This is the fi rst time in series history the Panthers are the betting favorite, which immediately brings out the DIA DIA imprimatur on the App State side…Dominating Dog in Action Doing it Again should be on the fl ags the cheerleaders race out of the Mountaineers tunnel as part of the pre-game festivities. App State has taken a bit of a slip, missing a bowl game last year and still not eligible this season, although a dub in Atlanta will take care of that. Taking North Carolina off the schedule will help too. Anytime Our Guys in the Desert make ASU the underdog, the Boones Farmers deliver, going 10-1-1 ATS in their Sun Belt days and 9-1- 1 ATS overall when on the receiving end of points in their last 11 games. Georgia State was rocked last week by conference leader James Madison, 42-14, and that was fresh off being blown out by Georgia Southern the week before when State gave up 44 points. The Mountaineers have won two straight games, combining for 80 points in wins over Southern Miss and Marshall and ASU QB Joey Aguilar has thrown at least two TD passes in every game this season but for the loss at Wyoming. We fi nish the foundation to our Five Star home with a powerful, life-changing combination of THE MIDWEEK ALERT, which points out ASU is the better offensive AND defensive team. That is followed by a simple, tasty THE CLINCHER: Since joining FBS in 2013 the Panthers are 0-4 ATS in Last Home Games versus foes coming off a win. To paraphrase a line from Snoop Dogg, “when you diss App State, you diss yourself.”
Cleveland over BALTIMORE by 6
The Ravens are taking the AFC North by storm, taking a 1.5-game lead over the division into this contest. Included in the surge have been wins over two other division leaders. The maturity of QB Lamar Jackson under new OC Todd Monken has been highly noticeable. The fact of the matter is the Black Birds are also hitting on all cylinders on the other side of the ball as their No. 2 overall ranked defense has held no less than four foes to season low yardage. In fact, they’ve allowed just 9 TDs in 105 drives this season – tops in the league. Meanwhile, the offense has ignited for over 500 yards in two of the last three games. The problem at hand today, though, is Jackson’s inability to deliver the goods as a home favorite with the Ravens, just 13-21 ATS overall and 3-8 ATS in division duels, including 1-5 ATS versus .500 or better foes. That could be a problem down the road for Jackson, considering that every team in the division is 5-3 or better, all playoff qualifiers today. And speaking of defense, Cleveland has now held two different opponents under 100 yards this season, which is impressive, when you consider that no other team has even done it once this season. Also, the Browns are the first team since 1992 to hold multiple teams under 100 yards in one season. Like the Ravens, Cleveland has limited four foes to season-low yards this campaign. We understand the Brownies are 0-10 ATS in games when both teams are coming off a win, but QB Deshaun Watson is 11-2-1 ATS as a dog in this league when his team was favored by more the three points in its previous game. Remember, there was no Watson when the Ravens put a 28-3 beatdown on the Browns in an earlier meeting in October.
Indianapolis over NEW ENGLAND by 6
Stop the presses! The Patriots are now five games under .500 for the first time since 2000, the first season Robert Kraft hired Bill Belichick. Since then, they went 362 straight games without falling five games under .500, which was the third longest in NFL history, trailing only the Steelers (1989-active) and Dolphins (1970-2004). The problem today is the Pats are 0-7 ATS in their last seven non-division games and just 1-10 ATS as a dog of late. Hardly Belichick numbers, for sure. Meanwhile, the Colts remain the only team in the league to have scored more than 20 points in every game this season. They are also 6-1 ATS in the second of consecutive away games and 5-1 ATS in their last six AFC East encounters. With the Hoodie trending downward and the trends in this game solidly in the Colts’ favor, there is only one way to look here today. We’ll fade the team with the worst record in the AFC.