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COLLEGE: Virginia Tech over PITTSBURGH by 1.

There was no joy in Steel City last weekend. On Sunday, the Steelers finally put former Pitt QB Kenny Pickett into the game, and he threw 3 picks in a disturbing 24-20 upset loss to the J-E-T-S. Prefacing that revolting development, though, was a total collapse of even greater magnitude on Saturday when the Pittsburgh Panthers lost at home to Georgia Tech (the CFB equivalent of the NY Jets) as 21-point chalk – in the Yellow Jackets’ first game after fi ring head coach Geoff Collins. Sheesh! So instead of getting off on the right foot to defend their ACC Championship, the Panthers are one of five teams in the loop without a conference win. “It starts with me,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said following the loss. “There’s no finger pointing in our locker room. It starts with me”. Meanwhile, just when we thought rookie HC Brent Pry had Virginia Tech pointed in the right direction, the Gobblers got outscored 74-20 in consecutive losses to West Virginia and North Carolina. The biggest edge for the Hokies has to be their defense, a 310-YPG unit that ranks No. 26 overall in the nation. More good news comes courtesy of Tech’s current 3-0 ATS run in games after scoring 10 or fewer points in back-to-back contests. If you’re looking for the nearest exit, be informed that Narduzzi is just 3-13 ATS as a home favorite of 7 or more points, including 1-9 ATS against an opponent coming off a loss. You already know of our infatuation of fading double-digit Homecoming favorites, and we won’t stop here. Bring on THE CLINCHER: Pittsburgh is 3-16-1 ATS at home when coming off a home game, including 0-10 ATS when favored by 6 or more points.

Washington St over USC by 3

USC has been a smashing success for first-year coach Lincoln Riley, who may have grabbed the Sooner Schooner to head west just in time based on what we’ve seen from Oklahoma lately. The Trojans’ defense has built a staggering +14 in turnover margin, but just like a basketball game where a team shoots 75% in the first half, there has to be a fallback – and this game may well be it. Wazzu has been led by QB transfer Cameron Ward, who has been so good this season he’s mentioned in an article as a possible first round replacement for former University of Michigan signal caller Tom Brady when Brady retires in Tampa Bay sometime this century. Washington State is 7-2 ATS as the visitor in this series and 12-3 ATS in Game One of back-to-back roadies. Looking up another Wazzu stat yields this diamond: 7-0 ATS on the road against double-digit unbeaten favorites. USC makes this decision easier by being 2-11 ATS in Game 6, 1-6 ATS home versus conference triple vengeance, and 2-6 ATS in game two of a back-to-back conference affair at home. Add to that the risk of SC looking ahead to a big-time revenge matchup with Utah next week and the LA crowd might be distracted reading their phones. We bring in the sleeper hold aka THE CLINCHER: Fade On for Victory! Fade On for victory! Fade On against ole USC.

LSU over Tennessee by 10

These two schools have only met once in the last 10 years, a 30-10 win for LSU in Ed Orgeron’s first season there. Too bad, because all of a sudden, this is the Game of the Week in the SEC pairing the 4-0 / 1-0 Vols under Josh Heupel against Brian Kelly’s 4-1 / 2-0 Tigers. Kelly has been a home hero, going 18-7 SU at home versus undefeated foes, including 13-3 in games in which his troops allow fewer than 21 PPG. LSU is also 5-1 ATS versus conference opponents with rest, and 15-8 ATS as a home dog when coming off an ATS loss, including 4-0 SUATS over the last four. Last week’s win over Auburn was ugly, as Kelly’s team fell behind early, 17-0, before getting it into gear. Tennessee has solid wins against Florida and Pitt, but the Vols are just 2-7 ATS in Game 5. Dual-threat transfer QBs in Jayden Daniels for LSU (came from Arizona State) and Hendon Hooker for the Volunteers (formerly started for Virginia Tech) have increased their visibility by leading these programs to great starts, so this should be a fun one. Finally, courtesy of the well-oiled machine who presents THE CLINCHER: The Vols are 3-11 SU and 1-13 ATS when both teams were favorites in their last game, including 1-9 SU and 0-10 ATS in SEC games.


Cincinnati over BALTIMORE by 10

With last week’s puzzling loss to the Bills, Baltimore has suffered a franchise 5 straight home defeats as they blew a 17-point 2Q lead while being outscored 20-0 to close out the game. The home loss prior to last week’s faux pas was the 42-38 horror show-giveaway to Miami when they coughed up a 21-point 4Q lead. Thus, the question begs: Has head coach John Harbaugh suddenly gone brain dead? With the score tied late in the game on 4th down at the two-yard line of a 93-yard yard drive, he opted to go for it rather than kicking a chip shot field goal to take the lead. Result: Ravens lose 23-20 on a last-second field goal by the Bills. Even Confucius might say, “WTF”! And with it, Buffalo snapped a seven-game losing skid in one-score games. It was the Black Birds’ second home loss this season after leading by 17 or more points. And according to the MIDWEEK ALERT, they’ve also been outgained in all four games this season. Safe to say they’ve got ‘bird flu’ and it’s not going to get better until Harbaugh does. Cincinnati’s strength this season has been its defense as they rank No. 8 in points allowed and No. 11 in overall yards allowed. They are also one of five teams that have been installed as a favorite in every game this year – yet dress up as a dog today. We seal the deal with THE CLINCHER: Cincinnati is 12-1 ATS against foes seeking double revenge exact.

NY JETS over Miami by 6

“Would you put your son back in the game?” It was a simple question but one of profound intellect, uttered by former NFL coach and current analyst Rex Ryan, who went on to say. “Forget this back and ankle BS we heard about. This is clearly from head trauma. That’s it. A concussion… We all know what it looks like.” He was speaking, of course, about the condition of Miami QB Tua Tagavailoa, who had to be stretchered from Thursday’s loss at Cincinnati due to a second-straight severe head injury he incurred in the contest. He’s been ruled out of today’s contest, meaning the Dolphins will turn to QB Teddy Bridgewater. The main point though, is all of this is a major distraction to the task at hand and the improving Jets will gladly step in and take full advantage of scene. The Flyboys rallied from a 10-point defi cit behind QB Zach Wilson’s late 81-and-65-yard drives to defeat the Steelers last week and with it they bring a Top 10 ranked offense and defense in this game. That makes them a dog with the better offense and the better defense, and as the MIDWEEK ALERT tells us, we’d better take the points. And with the Dolphins just 1-7 ATS in this series, we’ll do just that.

WASHINGTON over Tennessee by 6

Somehow you just knew that when the Titans traded WR Hollywood Brown to the Eagles during last year’s NFL Draft that Arkansas WR Treylon Burks was a replacement reach when they selected him in fi rst round. He is currently on crutches with a bad ankle and only has 10 receptions this season. They desperately need to work on closing games out after being outscored 64-7 in the second half of games this season. Meanwhile, The MIDWEEK ALERT notes that Mike Vrabel’s troops have been outgained in all four contests this season to the tune of -105 YPG. That’s not the stuff champions are made of, let alone road favorites.

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