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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#386 UAB -1 over North Texas 6:30 PM CT

The Mean Green are 6-1 while UAB is 5-1 with the Blazers the only undefeated team left in Conference USA West play. This was a wild game last September with North Texas winning 46-43 at home; getting a late field goal after UAB had tied the game with only 27 seconds to go. UAB is 9-0 S/U at home with only one ATS miss in Birmingham since bringing football back. UAB is hitting its stride defeating foes by a combined score of 98-14 the past three games with a productive rushing attack posing 5.1 yards per game.

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Mason Fine has fantastic numbers for North Texas but this should be he his toughest test of the season so far. North Texas is just 18-24 ATS on the road since 2012 and UAB is 9-1 ATS in the past 10 home games. In this key division game UAB should maintain its home field edge while avenging last season’s tough loss.

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Don’t miss our next 3* Top Play in college football (13-4 since December 2015). Point Train is on an incredible college football run at 14-2 and a huge 8-unit Underdog Game of the Year is posted for Saturday! Big picks are also available from Bobby Dalton, Big E, and Maximum Sports for Saturday college football!

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4th Quarter Covers NCAA Week 1

 4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 1

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the first big college football weekend. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

Northwestern (+1) 31, Purdue 27 (49½): The Wildcats led 31-17 at halftime but only were up by four early in the fourth quarter on a spread that fell from +3 to just +1 by kickoff on opening night. Purdue got a big stop with the Wildcats going for it on 4th and 6 just outside field goal range but they had to punt the ball right back. From there Northwestern burned nearly eight minutes of clock over 14 plays, with a personal foul penalty negating a 3rd down stop that would have given the Boilers the ball back.

Wake Forest (-7½) 23, Tulane 17 (55½): At no point in the game was Tulane not covering the closing spread but this line was at just +6½ much of the week before a late rise. Wake Forest threw a red zone interception in the fourth quarter up by three that allowed Tulane to tie the game with a field goal with just over three minutes remaining, converting a big 4th-and-11 play along the way. Going first in overtime Tulane went backwards and came up empty after facing 4th-and-25. Wake Forest needed seven plays to score the game-winning touchdown but they didn’t need the extra-point, which saved those on the underdog Wave.

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Stanford (-14½) 31, San Diego State 10 (48½): The Cardinal trailed 7-0 early but an 80-yard pass play on 3rd-and-long put Stanford up by 14 late in the third quarter to sit on or near the spread for most with the number hovering around 14 all week. The Aztecs went for it on 4th and 1 early in the fourth quarter in Stanford territory but fell short and Stanford added another touchdown on the subsequent drive to push the margin to 21 points. San Diego State reached Stanford territory on its final possession but back-to-back sacks made for 4th and very long and the Aztecs just opted to punt and didn’t see the ball again. Those on the ‘under’ also held on with only seven points in the fourth quarter despite both teams having a pair of drives across midfield in the final frame.

Ohio State (-39) 77, Oregon State 31 (62): This matchup of OSUs from the Pac 12 and the Big Ten was never expected to be close, and it wasn’t. The Buckeyes put up 21 points in the first quarter on two Dwayne Haskins touchdown passes, compared to 7 points by the Beavers who were playing with second-string quarterback Conor Blount for most of the game. The second quarter would not get any closer as the Buckeyes put up another 21 points including a Nick Bosa fumble recovery and return for a touchdown. At the half the score was 42-14. The third quarter was unique as the Beavers outscored the Buckeyes 17-14. Beavers running back Artavis Pierce broke off touchdown runs of 78 and 80 yards to bring the score to 56-31 at the end of three quarters of play leaving those on the hefty underdog in pretty good position down 25 with two touchdowns to spare on the closing number. The fourth quarter was back to looking more like the beginning of the contest however, all Ohio State. The Buckeyes exploded for yet another 21-point quarter, putting the game away, and covering the spread with the final score coming with fewer than four minutes remaining as Master Teague broke a 33-yard run on a 4th down play.

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Indiana (-13) 38, Florida International 28 (56): The spread on this game was -10 or -10½ most of the week before rising to -13 by kickoff. The Hoosiers were just past that number by halftime with a 28-14 advantage and turned it into a 35-14 edge midway through the third quarter. Florida International delivered a 16-play touchdown drive late in the third quarter to get back to within 14 and Indiana settled for a short field goal early in the fourth quarter to leave the backdoor open. Back-to-back defensive penalties helped the cause as FIU went the distance including getting a 4th-and-4 conversion to put the underdog in position to cover down 10. Things got interesting late as Indiana recovered the onside kick attempt and rushed down the field with the clock running out, eventually ending the game on the FIU 2-yard-line.

Auburn (-1½) 21, Washington 16 (50½): Washington traveled across the country to take on Auburn in the Chick-fil-a Kickoff this past Saturday in Atlanta and they gave us a classic. Auburn started off the game on fire, scoring the first nine points on a Jarrett Stidham touchdown pass and an Anders Carlson field goal. The Huskies would answer back with 2:59 to go in the first quarter on a Peyton Henry 31-yard field goal. Both teams would trade field goals to open the second quarter of play. Auburn’s Anders Carlson would add a 53-yard field goal at the 1:23 mark to make the score 15-6. Jake Browning took only 40 seconds to strike back on a 13-yard pass to receiver Quinten Pounds to end the half with a score of 15-13 in favor of the Tigers. Scoring would halt in the third quarter though not without chances for both teams. Missed field goals were traded early in the third quarter and Washington came away empty despite reaching 1st-and-goal after a fumble on a 3rd down sack. Washington place-kicker Peyton Henry put a 30-yard field goal through the uprights at the 14:05 mark to give Washington the lead 16-15. Scoring would pause with a pair of punts until Auburn’s JaTarvious Whitlow scored on a ten yard run with 6:15 remaining in the game. Whitlow’s carry would prove to be the deciding factor in this matchup of Top 10 teams as Auburn would take home the win 21-16 with Browning sacked for the fifth time on 4th and long after Washington had reached the Auburn 37-yard-line in the final minutes. Those on the ‘under’ were never threatened on the scoreboard but 51 first downs and 818 total yards suggested a higher scoring outcome. 22 combined penalties for more than 200 yards played a role along with settling for nine field goal attempts including three that were missed.

California (-7) 24, North Carolina 17 (57½): In a rematch from last season’s 35-30 win for California to open the season the Bears led 17-0 at halftime against a North Carolina squad shorthanded with suspensions. A 38-yard interception return touchdown was among the scores as the edge for California was more about the failures of the Tar Heels than the success of the offense for the Bears. North Carolina got on the board late in the third quarter with a field goal but California answered with a touchdown drive for a 24-3 edge heading into the fourth quarter. Pinned deep, North Carolina finally got its offense going, delivering a 19-play 92-yard touchdown drive to trim the margin to 10 points. With four minutes remaining the Tar Heels got the ball back and again drove into the end zone with just over a minute remaining to put the margin at seven, right on the number for many. Initially North Carolina recovered the subsequent onside kick but it was taken back with an early block ruling on replay review.

Washington State (-3) 41, Wyoming 19 (45): The post Josh Allen era for Wyoming started off great last weekend when the Cowboys trounced New Mexico State, this weekend was not so favorable. Mike Leach’s Washington State Cougars traveled to Laramie to face the upstart Cowboys in a game that many thought would be a close one. The game started off all Wazzu as they took a 10 point lead with 3:28 left in the first quarter. Wyoming would answer with a rare safety to make the score 10-2 at the end of one. The Cowboys outscored the Cougars 14-3 in the second quarter to take a 16-13 lead into the locker room. The second half started off slow as Wyoming added a field goal midway through the third quarter but Washington State took the lead by the end of the frame with a 75-yard drive capped off with a Max Borghi reception. The fourth quarter was where the game broke open as the Cougars exploded for 21 unanswered points to wind up with a 41-19 final result for the favorite cover as well as hitting the ‘over’ with Wyoming posting a net total of zero yards combined on its final five possessions.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#181 SMU +4 over North Texas 6:30 PM CT

SMU suffered an embarrassing 51-10 bowl loss to sour a solid 2017 season with current head coach Sonny Dykes leading the team in that game shortly after accepting the position after Chad Morris was hired at Arkansas. That defeat could fuel the Mustangs to a strong debut performance this season. Ben Hicks is one of the most productive returning quarterbacks after throwing 33 touchdowns last season while passing for nearly 3,600 yards. The schedule for the Mustangs is very tough as they will be dogged more substantially the next two weeks facing major conference powers making this a critical game in the season goals.

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Mason Fine threw for over 4,000 yards last season for North Texas as two high profile senior quarterbacks will be on display in Denton. The season for the Mean Green ended with a pair of lopsided losses after the team had won eight of nine to reach the Conference USA title game in what was a down year for the West division. Last season SMU won 54-32 in this matchup with the team yardage exactly even. Three turnovers for North Texas were a factor as a 10-0 lead turned into a 54-17 deficit before two late scores made for a more respectable final than the Mean Green deserved.

SMU returns eight starters on defense this season including five of last season’s top seven leading tacklers and these teams had similar marginal defensive statistics last season with SMU playing a more difficult schedule that included losses to high scoring offenses in TCU, UCF, and Memphis. SMU had the second highest scoring output against North Texas last season and while the Mean Green did go 6-0 at home last season the travel is minimal for SMU this game features a 17-point swing in the line from last season in the move 40 miles northwest.

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Nelly’s is 1-0 on the season and we have our first 2/3 guarantee of the season lined up for Saturday – $25. Big E is on a 13-4 run in 20* & higher picks and he has his first 20* pick for Saturday with his Non-Conference Game of the Year. Point Train has a 5-Unit Underdog Opener play with a 2-1 start to the season. Maximum has a big 7* pick lined up this weekend as well. Bobby Dalton will have his Saturday update coming soon with a 2-0 NCAA start!

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Early AAC East Preview

Early AAC East Preview

The American claimed a national title according to some last season as Central Florida completed a perfect 13-0 campaign, the only program in the nation to do so completing the run with a win over Auburn in the Peach Bowl. The AAC has produced the top Group of Five squad twice in the last three years and should remain the top threat outside the power five again in 2018.

The East will again start with UCF but Temple and South Florida are viable threats that will challenge in the East race. An undefeated team in the division is again a possibility and there appears to be a massive chasm between the top three and the bottom three in this division. Here is an early look at the six AAC East squads.

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Central Florida: Scott Frost delivered an incredible season for the Knights but he will be on the sidelines in Lincoln this season with another former Big XII quarterback taking over in Orlando this season. Josh Heupel led Oklahoma to a national title on the field and he has honed his coaching skills at his alma mater and more recently at Missouri to make the leap to his first head coaching job. He inherits the top quarterback in the conference to ease the transition with McKenzie Milton posting huge numbers last season but there were significant personnel losses on both sides of the ball for the Knights in the offseason. The schedule has a few challenging spots as a repeat perfect season is unlikely but this will still be a team that can post a double-digit win count and shouldn’t be ruled out as a top Group of Five threat. The West draw adds two formidable AAC games to the schedule and two of the toughest tests of the conference season will be on the road. Non-conference tests vs. North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Florida Atlantic will determine whether or not UCF can stay in the national spotlight.

Temple: Temple has a team capable of knocking off anyone in the AAC as one of the better defenses in the conference should be even better in the second season behind Geoff Collins. The Owls rallied to win seven games last season including a bowl game but five of six road games in 2018 will be challenging tests. Frank Nutile was a productive quarterback that sparked the offense taking over midseason last year and another solid bowl season should be ahead in Philadelphia. Temple has a good chance to make a bit of noise with a pair of manageable power five non-conference games and they will have a bye week ahead of a huge run of games in November that will decide the fate of the division, with the Owls playing UCF, Houston, and USF in succession.

South Florida: Getting 10 wins in a first season at a new program is a great accomplishment but South Florida was favored in 11 of 12 games last season and expectations of a perfect season were there, ultimately outshined by the in-state neighbors to the northeast. Charlie Strong had a lot to work with last season and his job will be more challenging this season with the loss of top rusher and passer Quinton Flowers. Add several major departures on defense and other big contributors graduating from the offense and the Bulls aren’t likely to match the production of the past two seasons. The schedule is reasonable however and another 10-win season is very possible. The draw from the West is relatively favorable and the Bulls get to host UCF in the season finale after a wildly entertaining contest between those teams for the division title last season. South Florida might not be as good as last season but that doesn’t mean a decline in record is likely.

Cincinnati: It was expected that Cincinnati would perennially be in the conversation as one of the top Group of Five threats after four straight seasons of at least nine wins earlier this decade. The Bearcats are coming off back-to-back 4-8 seasons however as Luke Fickell was unable to deliver positive returns in first season with the program. Cincinnati should have the pieces in place to improve defensively this season and the schedule overall is easier than last season’s slate pulling a pair of MAC teams while also getting two of the lesser teams from the West division. The offensive line looks like an area of weakness for this group which could trickle down to the rest of the offense even with veteran playmakers returning in key positions. Returning to the glory days of a decade ago isn’t likely for the Bearcats this season but this should be a borderline bowl team that can show slight improvement.

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Connecticut: Randy Edsall went 3-9 in his return to Connecticut after coaching five mediocre seasons at Maryland. The Huskies did upset two AAC foes last season but closed the season with five straight defeats. Another poor finish in the AAC East looks likely with a daunting set of home games in conference play but Connecticut will get to play two of the lesser West teams to help the cause. Add a pair of winnable non-conference games and Connecticut has a chance to show mild improvement this season. The defense was gutted however with very little experience back in action but the offense did make a big leap from the 2016 numbers last season. This will be a team that will welcome shootouts unlike during the Bob Diaco years as the Huskies will at least be a more interesting team to watch even if a bowl bid is not realistic this season.

East Carolina: The decision to fire Ruffin McNeill after the 2015 season was mostly panned and it looks even worse at this point after a pair of 3-9 seasons for East Carolina. Scottie Montgomery will face some heat this season with improvement expected but the schedule is quite challenging with two ACC squads on the schedule in September and the first five AAC games on the schedule coming against arguably the best five teams in the conference. Drawing Memphis and Houston from the West is less than ideal and the division road games are all very difficult. Realistically another 3-9 season looks likely considering this was a defense that allowed 45 points per game and 542 yards per game last season and will now need to break in a new quarterback.

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Early MAC West Preview

Early MAC West Preview

The MAC produced the top Group of Five squad two years ago before the conference had a less distinguished campaign in 2017 led by Toledo’s league title. The Rockets along with the rest of the MAC other than Ohio had a disappointing bowl season however.

All six MAC West teams can make a case for being in the division race with coaching stability at all six programs but likely new quarterbacks at most programs as the top returning signal callers in the conference are all on the East side. This has been a multi-team race the past few years and it should again be a competitive field although the East might be gaining ground in the overall MAC picture. Here is an early look at the six MAC West programs looking ahead to the 2018 season.

Northern Illinois: The Huskies were a near automatic choice to win the MAC West much of the last decade and after a down 2016 season Northern Illinois returned to the postseason last year. Rod Carey enters year six in DeKalb with good returning experience and a stellar track record at home. A very tough non-conference schedule could leave the postseason margin for error quite thin for the Huskies but Marcus Childers is back at quarterback and the run defense was exceptional last season. The schedule is difficult with three of the better East teams on the schedule while the four home dates in MAC play will all come against quality teams. Northern Illinois had some good fortune last season with a number of narrow wins and while they are likely the top threat in the West, this isn’t going to be a runaway race.

Western Michigan: Tim Lester stepped into a tough situation with Western Michigan taking over for P.J. Fleck after an undefeated season and a Cotton Bowl appearance. His 2017 Broncos went 6-6 but didn’t get a bowl invite and the team was fortunate with a pair of overtime victories in league play. The statistics for the Broncos were favorable despite the even record as Western Michigan played USC and Michigan State while also facing a very difficult set of road games in MAC play. The Broncos have the ability to rise to the top this season with one of the few returning quarterbacks in the West and the opportunity to host the toughest MAC games. Western Michigan is +26 in turnovers the past two seasons for some good fortune however but in a muddled race where 6-2 is probably enough to win this division, the Broncos are a serious contender to get back on top.

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Toledo: The Rockets won 11 games last season and more importantly retained Jason Candle as head coach. Replacing all-time passing leader Logan Woodside will be a tough task however for Toledo in 2018. There is a strong receiving corps to work with and Toledo has a preferable draw from the MAC East but they will need to beat the other West threats on the road to repeat as the division champion. Toledo won with a mediocre defense the past two seasons but most of the top players from last year’s defense are gone as the Rockets will likely play in shootouts this season with an unproven quarterback. Candle is 14-3 in MAC games and Toledo has won at least five MAC games in eight straight seasons as they remain a chief threat.

Eastern Michigan: It has taken time but Chris Creighton has restored the Eastern Michigan program to a respectable level. This was a much better team than the 5-7 record indicated last season as the Eagles lost three overtime games and were competitive in every defeat. The Eagles will break in a new quarterback but the East draw offers promise relative to their peers in the West and Toledo and NIU both have to visit Ypsilanti. Eastern Michigan will face four road games in a five-week stretch early in the year but late season momentum is likely and this defense has a lot of potential after allowing only 23 points per game last season. A rise to the top isn’t out of the question for the Eagles hinging on the outcomes of three huge games in succession early in the conference season.

Ball State: The Cardinals nearly beat Illinois, beat UAB, and then nearly beat Western Kentucky last September. An incredible amount of injuries piled up as the Cardinals eventually went through four quarterbacks and a disastrous 0-8 MAC season followed a very respectable non-conference first month. This will be one of the most experienced teams in the conference with quarterback Riley Neal and running back James Gilbert back from injuries. This was a team poised for a 2017 breakthrough before the injuries and Mike Neu has an opportunity to lead major improvement in his third season. The non-conference draw is difficult and three of the four home dates will be against division heavyweights while also pulling Ohio and Miami from the East. The schedule could take a toll but last season’s numbers should be thrown out the window in evaluating this team as a competitive season should be ahead.

Central Michigan: John Bonamego was a surprise hire in Mt. Pleasant but he has led the Chippewas to three straight bowl seasons. Central Michigan won the final five regular season games last season to finish 6-2 in MAC play but this looks like the least experienced team in the conference with only running back Jonathan Ward a notable returnee for the offense. All four MAC road games are of the difficult variety but Central Michigan avoids Ohio and Miami from the East draw for a preferable league slate. Bonamego seems to get the most out of his players and the gap between the top and bottom of this division doesn’t look significant.

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Free Bowl Pick Saturday

#204 Western Kentucky -6.5 over Georgia State 1:30 PM CT

Georgia State just slipped into the bowl schedule, finishing the season 6-5. A scheduled game against Memphis Sept. 30 was cancelled as it is safe to assume the Panthers might have been left off the bowl schedule had that game been played. The Panthers lost their final two games of the regular season, falling to Appalachian State 31-10 and Idaho State, 24-10 but will make the program’s second ever bowl game, playing in this game two years ago with a loss to San Jose State.

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Offensively, Georgia State has struggled at times, averaging 19.7 points per game. QB Conner Manning has tossed 13 TDs with seven interceptions, along with 2,870 yards passing. WR Penny Hart has more than 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 73 receptions. The Panthers lack a strong rushing attack, averaging 114.9 yards per game on just 3.2 yards per carry. Defensively, Georgia State allows almost 400 yards per game on 5.8 yards per play. Bryan Williams has four interceptions, while Marterious Allen has recorded four sacks as the standouts on the defense.

Western Kentucky (6-6) also just snuck into the bowl party, struggling after a 5-2 start to the season. The Hilltoppers lost four of their last five contests to fall well short of the success of the past two seasons in Mike Sanford’s first season as head coach. Despite their mediocre record, QB Mike White has enjoyed a stellar senior season. White has 27 TD passes with seven interceptions and has passed for 3,826 yards despite the transition of the offense. Western Kentucky scores about 26 points per game, after averaging about 45 points per game the past three seasons.

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The Hilltoppers come into this bowl game with some injury concerns on defense but this is a favorable matchup as Western Kentucky would be more likely to struggle against a strong rushing team. The Hilltoppers out-gained their foe in three of four late season losses while the collection of wins for Georgia State features six of the very worst teams in the nation, all ranking 105 or worse in FPI.

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Don’t miss debut bowl picks from our handicappers for Saturday! Bobby Dalton has released a 10* Best Bet for Saturday while Big E has his first 10* Bowl Biggie. Nelly’s, Point Train, and Maximum also have bowl releases to start the college postseason!

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 14

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 14

12/03/2017

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the championship college football weekend in early December. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

USC (-3½) 31, Stanford 28: The Pac-12 championship spread bounced around from -3 to -4. The Trojans seemed to have a clear edge early with a 17-7 lead late in the second quarter and a dominant production edge but Stanford managed to complete a touchdown drive 34 seconds before halftime to trail by three. That remained the margin through three quarters with matching touchdowns before USC had the game’s only turnover. Stanford didn’t score directly after that fumble but it shifted the field position. The Cardinal eventually reached the red zone on the next possession but failed going for it on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard-line. USC seemingly put the game away going 99 yards to lead by 10 with just over four minutes remaining but Stanford connected on three deep acrobatic catches including two on 3rd-and-long plays while also managing to recover a botched snap. The Cardinal eventually hit the end zone on a great Kaden Smith catch for 28 yards with two minutes remaining. That score locked up the underdog cover in most scenarios as USC recovered the onside kick and conservatively tried to run down the clock. With 37 seconds to go USC faced 4th-and-2 from the Stanford 32-yard-line. There was certainly no need to attempt a long field goal and punting seemed to be the common choice but the Trojans ran a pass play with Josh Falo getting the first down and running for 15 yards, finishing one tackle short of breaking through to the end zone. The Cardinal again lost by just three to narrowly cover most spreads despite a 501-343 yardage edge for the Pac-12 champion Trojans.

Troy (-1) 32, Arkansas State 25: Troy led 24-13 halfway through the fourth quarter with a kickoff return touchdown and a 100-yard interception return touchdown offsetting an eventual 293-606 yardage deficit. Arkansas State had some late fight however with the Sun Belt title on the line. The Red Wolves completed a 93-yard touchdown drive in just over three minutes, trailing by five with 2:56 remaining after missing the 2-point-conversion. Arkansas State didn’t recover the on-side kick but used its timeouts and forced a quick punt getting the ball back with still well over two minutes remaining. The Red Wolves completed a big 3rd down play near midfield and then struck for a 39-yard touchdown pass to take a one-point lead, again missing on the conversion but it was enough to put Arkansas State in position to win and cover on the late week prices. Brandon Silvers and the Troy offense completed a big 4th down play en route to scoring on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 17 seconds to go to steal the win back while claiming a share of the Sun Belt title.

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Florida Atlantic (-10½) 41, North Texas 17: The Owls dominated early and led 34-0 early in the third quarter but the Mean Green were briefly a threat to steal the cover, closing to 34-17 in the fourth quarter. Florida Atlantic converted 3rd-and-11 and 3rd-and-6 plays on the way to a late touchdown drive, aided by a face mask penalty to push the margin from 17 to 24 points to ensure the favorite cover.

UCF (-6½) 62, Memphis 55: The spread on this game was steady at 7 the majority of the week despite closing at 6½ at many outlets. The Knights took charge early with a 24-14 edge but then had three consecutive turnovers including interceptions at the one-yard-line and in the end zone as Memphis scored 17 points to take a 31-24 halftime lead. UCF again established control with a 48-34 edge with about 10 minutes to play after settling for a short field goal to go up by 14. Memphis broke a 66 yard run a few plays later and then forced the first punt of the game from the Knights. Memphis tied the game seven plays later and had the opportunity to win in regulation but missed on a long 51-yard field goal try. Both teams scored with ease in the first overtime. Central Florida took three plays to post seven in the second overtime and the struggling defense sealed the perfect campaign with an interception two plays after Memphis had converted a huge 4th-and-7 play. Most left with a push and the ‘over’ on one of the higher totals in college football history was easily cleared.

Toledo (-20½) 45, Akron 28: The Rockets claimed the MAC title with a 38-0 edge in the third quarter but the Zips clawed back for a backdoor cover. Akron scored touchdowns surrounding the shift to the fourth quarter but Toledo scored on one play to put the margin back to 31 points. Akron scored with six minutes to go and again with 20 seconds to go to lose by only 17.

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Ohio State (-3½) 27, Wisconsin 21: The Big Ten championship proved to be the most exciting of Saturday’s four power five championship games and the spread results were mixed. Ohio State led 21-10 at the half with Wisconsin’s offense completely shut down but getting a pick-6 and a field goal off a fumble to stay in the game. The Badgers played better defense in the second half and managed to climb to within three points after an early fourth quarter score and a successful two-point conversion that came after a lengthy delay to repair the field in Indianapolis. The Buckeyes reached the red zone and opted to go for it on 4th-and-1 at the 13-yard-line. J.T. Barrett was initially stuffed behind the line of scrimmage but escaped to narrowly get the needed distance. A few plays later the Buckeyes opted to go the conservative route and kicked a 20-yard field goal on 4th-and-1 at the 3-yard-line for a six-point advantage, even with a common spread on the game though lines from 6½ to 3½ proved possible. After both teams punted Wisconsin had the ball back with nearly three minutes to play but were burned by a costly holding penalty and eventually wound up intercepted on 4th-and-20 as six points remained the final margin.

Florida State (-25½) 42, UL-Monroe 10: Jimbo Fisher left the Seminoles before this game but the impact on the massive spread was minimal. UL-Monroe scored 10 points in the third quarter to make it a game, trailing only 21-10. Florida State would close the game with three more touchdowns however to sneak by the heavy favorite spread while keeping the nation’s longest bowl streak alive.

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MWC Championship Notes

MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERNCE CHAMPIONSHIP

Match-up: Fresno State Bulldogs at Boise State Broncos

Venue: At Albertson’s Stadium in Boise, Idaho

Time/TV: Saturday, December 2, 7:45 PM ET, ESPN

Line: Boise State -9, Over/Under 49

Last Meeting: November 25, 2017 at Fresno State (+6½) 28-17

Boise State won eight WAC titles from 2002 to 2010 but the program has won the Mountain West championship just twice and just once since the championship game format started. That title came by virtue of beating Fresno State in 2014 in Boise 28-14, though falling well short of an over three-touchdown spread. The Broncos have won 10 or more games in 14 of the last 18 seasons and they will hit that mark with a win this weekend (or with a bowl win).

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The Broncos have several notable upsets vs. power five schools in recent years but they missed in both opportunities in September. This year’s team drew one of the tougher schedules in the conference having to play San Diego State and Colorado State on the road with those teams generally considered the preseason division favorites. Quarterback Brett Rypien didn’t match the numbers he posted last season and wound up splitting a lot of time with Montell Cozart as the Broncos had some inconsistency on offense but were one of the top defensive teams in the conference.

Jeff Tedford had success in 11 seasons at California before he was let go after the 2012 season. He coached in the NFL in 2014 and the CFL in 2015 before returning to college football as an assistant at Washington last season. This season has led one of the great turnarounds in college football with the Bulldogs going from 1-11 to 9-3 and playing for a conference championship at his Alma Mater. Always known as a quarterback developer he has turned Oregon State transfer Marcus McMaryion to one of the top players in the conference. The Fresno State defense is also 12th nationally in scoring defense allowing just 17.3 points per game for a dramatic improvement from last season.

2017 Meeting: These teams played last week in Fresno knowing that they would play again in this championship game this week. Fresno State prevailed 28-17 to pull away after Boise State closed to within two points in the fourth quarter. There were no turnovers and the yardage was nearly even with third down success the biggest difference in the box score.

Series History: Boise State is 13-4 S/U in this series since 1996 with a 12-4 ATS record however Fresno State has covered in the past three meetings. Prior to last week’s 28-17 win for Fresno State at home these teams last met in the MWC Championship in 2014 with Boise State winning 28-14 but falling short of a -23 spread at home. None of the S/U wins for Fresno State in this series have come in Boise.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 13

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 13

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the 13th college football weekend to close down the regular season for most temas. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

TCU (-26½) 45, Baylor 22: While the statistics were nearly even and it was a 6-point game with 17 minutes to go, TCU had a shot to cover the massive favorite spread in an early Friday game in Big XII play. TCU inherited great field position leading by 20 early in the fourth quarter but wound up a yard short on 3rd down at the 5-yard-line and opted for a 23-yard field goal to push the lead by 23. After an exchange of punts Baylor got the ball back at its own 3-yard-line with about three minutes remaining and back-up quarterback Zach Smith in the game due to an injury to starting quarterback Charlie Brewer. Smith threw an interception at the 29-yard-line but TCU ran four conservative runs and opted to turn the ball over on downs with 12 seconds to go rather than kick a field goal or try for the end zone as Baylor held on for the narrow cover on a spread climbed from +23½ to +26½ by kickoff.

Central Michigan (+2½) 31, Northern Illinois 24: The Huskies had a defensive touchdown a minute into the game and led 17-0 at halftime. By the end of the third quarter Central Michigan had tied the game and took a 24-17 lead early in the fourth. With about three minutes remaining Northern Illinois re-tied the game but Central Michigan hit a 40-yard pass play on 1st down to enter scoring territory. Bogged down in long field goal range the Chippewas opted to go for it on 4th-and-4 from the 29-yard-line and connected for a touchdown. The Huskies looked like a threat to answer in the final minute but Marcus Childers was intercepted just outside of the end zone.

Buffalo (+7) 31, Ohio 24: A 24-7 edge for Buffalo at the end of the 1st quarter didn’t hold up as Ohio would tie the game by the start of the fourth quarter. Pinned deep Ohio had a marginal punt that was returned 39 yards to the Ohio 6-yard-line where the Bulls put in the go-ahead touchdown with about eight minutes to go. Ohio reached the Buffalo 6-yard-line on its final drive but a third down sack made it 4th-and-12 and Nathan Rourke was intercepted in the end zone to seal the minor upset for Buffalo.

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San Diego State (-20½) 35, New Mexico 10: The Lobos scored 10 points late in the third quarter to trail by just 11 but San Diego State would add two scores in the fourth quarter to pull away for a narrow favorite cover. New Mexico missed a field goal in the fourth quarter and threw interceptions on its final two possessions, including the second pick coming at the 8-yard-line in the final minute with a touchdown able to shift the spread result.

Houston (-6½) 24, Navy 14: Houston and Navy were tied through three quarters but early in the final frame the Cougars connected for a 61-yard pass play to take a 21-14 lead. The Cougars added a field goal and held Navy to four punts and an interception on its final five drives.

Texas Tech (+7½) 27, Texas 23: The Longhorns added an early fourth quarter field goal to lead 23-13 but Texas Tech rallied to score twice for the win, getting the second score in the final two minutes on a short field after a Sam Ehlinger interception was returned 55 yards. Ehlinger was picked off again with a minute to go after the Longhorns crossed midfield.

UCLA (-7) 30, California 27: The Bruins led by 10 early in the fourth quarter but California added a short field goal to trail by seven, even with the closing number on the game. With just over two minutes remaining the Bears completed an 11-play touchdown drive to tie the contest but behind back-up quarterback Devon Modster the Bruins delivered a game-winning field goal with four seconds to go.

Cincinnati (-6½) 22, Connecticut 21: Connecticut led 15-7 heading into the fourth quarter to look like a sure underdog cover but the Bearcats delivered an early fourth quarter touchdown and successfully went for two to tie the game. After three punts Cincinnati had the ball back with just over three minutes to go and delivered a touchdown at the 1:28 mark to suddenly lead by seven, just past the favorite spread. The Huskies faced 4th-and-10 from the 15-yard-line with two seconds to go and connected for only 13 yards but pass interference was called. On the untimed play the Huskies converted but incredibly missed the extra-point for a deflating finish for the, though a great result for those on the underdog with overtime avoided.

Michigan State (-14) 40, Rutgers 7: Michigan State led by only 12 through three quarters but had a nearly 4:1 yardage edge and added three fourth quarter touchdowns to pull away for a deserved convincing final score.

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Ohio State (-12) 31, Michigan 20: The Buckeyes trailed 14-0 early in the game but it was tied at the half and Ohio State had a one-point edge through three quarters thanks to a blocked extra-point. Ohio State added an early fourth quarter field goal but missed a kick on the next possession. An interception quickly gave Ohio State the ball back and in three plays the Buckeyes put the game away just after the two-minute mark, leading by 11 to cover some of the early week favorite spreads though the closing line did hit -12.

Kansas State (-2½) 20, Iowa State 19: While the Kansas State offense did little through three quarters the Wildcats came to life in the fourth quarter after being down 19-7. Scoring with about six minutes to go to get within five the Wildcats forced a punt and then survived an interception that was wiped away with a penalty, in a game where the officiating decisions felt lopsided in favor of the hosts. Kansas State would deliver a game-winning touchdown as time expired on a throw to the back of the end zone after a long scramble from quarterback Skyler Thompson. Had there been even a little time on the clock the Wildcats presumably would have gone for two to try to make it a three-point margin in what would have been a huge play for all involved.

Florida Atlantic (-25) 31, Charlotte 12: While no points went on the board in the fourth quarter both teams came close to scoring as on three consecutive possessions FAU, then Charlotte, and then FAU again went for it on 4th down plays in the red zone and were stopped in scores that could have changed the spread outcome.

Southern Miss (+2) 28, Marshall 27: This game was tied 21-21 through three quarters and overtime looked likely as after an early fourth quarter score for the Golden Eagles, Marshall found the end zone at the 1:15 mark. The Herd opted to go for two and the win and didn’t convert.

Nevada (-3) 23, UNLV 16: The Rebels led 16-9 looking to get win #6 and a postseason invite but Nevada tied the game late in the third quarter and then scored halfway through the fourth. UNLV’s season came down to a 4th-and-2 play at the Nevada 22-yard-line with an incomplete pass ending the threat.

Air Force (-2) 38, Utah State 35: Air Force led by three heading into the fourth quarter before a back-and-forth final frame. Utah State went 99 yards in six plays to lead 28-24 and then got the ball back; however the Aggies were pinned deep. From the 3-yard line a fumble was recovered for an Air Force touchdown. Utah State answered with a touchdown to go back in front by four with about five minutes to go but Air Force put together its drive of the season going 75 yards in 13 plays to take a three-point lead at the 1:38 mark. Utah State would cross midfield on its final possession but failed on 4th down.

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Arkansas State (-9½) 67, UL-Monroe 50: The Red Wolves led by 14 entering the fourth quarter but twice in the final frame UL-Monroe closed to within a single score. ASU made it a 10-point margin to slip past the road favorite spread with a long field goal with under two minutes to play then sealed the win with an 85-yard interception return touchdown.

Stanford (+3) 38, Notre Dame 20: Notre Dame led 20-17 through three quarters in an even contest Saturday night but things turned quickly as Stanford scored three touchdowns in fewer than four minutes of game clock early in the fourth quarter with the help of a pair of turnovers to pull away with a 38-20 final result.

Oklahoma State (-40) 58, Kansas 17: Oklahoma State only led by 24 late in the third quarter but the Cowboys would keep scoring including getting a touchdown with about five minutes remaining to push the closing margin to 40, enough to earn a push or a win for those willing to lay the lumber with the Cowboys.

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Free NCAA Pick Tuesday

#101 Kent State +15 over Akron 6:00 PM CT

The Zips stunned Ohio last week even with Thomas Woodson suspended to take the lead in the MAC East and Akron will head to Detroit for the MAC Championship with a win this week. Backup quarterback Kato Nelson had a career performance last week that will be hard to replicate, throwing for four touchdowns and more than 300 yards. The Zips have to face their fierce rival Kent State to win the division title however.

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The Flashes have had a miserable season but actually played a good game last week against Central Michigan despite a misleading 19-point loss. Kent State had a 494-450 yardage edge and a 25-16 first down edge in that game. Despite being a division leader at 5-2 Akron has a scoring differential of only +7 in MAC games, 104 points worse than Ohio’s differential as last week’s win was a significant upset that will be difficult to back up.

The underdog has had some success in this series going 9-4-1 ATS since 2003 and this will be one of the highest lines ever in this matchup. This looks like a mismatch but the statistics can be thrown out the window in a season-finale rivalry matchup and the pressure is squarely on Akron looking to get to the MAC title game for the first time since 2005 as Kent State should have some trickery planned to do anything possible to play spoiler.

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Check out guaranteed college basketball holiday tournament picks for Tuesday night from Nelly’s, Bobby Dalton, and B.E.S.T. Also expect to see football releases for Thursday as early as Wednesday afternoon.