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Free NFL Pick

#460 Minnesota Vikings -10 over Denver Broncos 12:00 PM CT

After surviving a dramatic finish for a prime time road win the Vikings could be at risk this week facing a rested Broncos team. Outside of the Thursday loss to the Chiefs, every Denver loss has been a competitive game and Brandon Allen’s debut was a success. Minnesota’s run defense figures to put more pressure on him this week and Mike Zimmer’s home record will be difficult to test even with lesser results priced this high. The Broncos have allowed fewer than 19 points per game this season as it won’t take a huge performance from the offense to hang within this number but ultimately Allen isn’t worth the risk vs. this defense. The Broncos have merit as a popular underdog at 10 or fewer points, Minnesota is the lean.

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4Q Covers Week 8

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 8


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 eighth big weekend of the college football season in mid-October. 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.

Troy (-18) 37, South Alabama 13: This Wednesday Sun Belt game was a 10-10 tie just before halftime before Troy managed a pair of field goals in the final 68 seconds. The lead was just 10 through three quarters as the underdog was promising on a spread that trickled past the key number of 17 to 17½ and even a few closing lines hit 18. The game changed dramatically with a 29-yard interception return touchdown that suddenly put Troy up by exactly 17. South Alabama appeared in position to get a score to keep the underdog in position to cover in most scenarios but an intentional grounding call pushed the Jaguars out of scoring range on a fourth quarter drive and Troy burned more than eight minutes of clock and eventually added seven more to lead by 24. South Alabama would reach the Troy 36-yard-line in the final minutes looking to get back within 17 for a narrow cover but a fumble ended the threat.

UL-Lafayette (-5½) 37, Arkansas State 20: The spread on the road favorite dropped in the hours before kickoff Thursday night but Louisiana led by 14 at halftime. The Red Wolves added a third quarter field goal and an early fourth quarter touchdown to get within the number down by just four. The Ragin’ Cajuns responded with a nice kickoff return and added a touchdown five minutes later to lead by 10, actually missing on the PAT. Needing to go for it on fourth down near midfield Arkansas State fell short and gave Louisiana good field position and two plays later they hit the end zone for a 37-20 edge and for good measure got an interception to hold off a late scoring threat from Arkansas State.

Fresno State (-16½) 56, UNLV 27: Fresno State led by just eight late in the third quarter but a fumble return touchdown put the Bulldogs in range to cover the home favorite spread that fluctuated back and forth from extremes of -13½ up to -16½.The Bulldogs would then take over in the fourth quarter with three touchdowns in the span of fewer than three minutes of game clock thanks to more UNLV turnovers, with eventually a 5-0 edge in takeaways leading to the lopsided final margin for Fresno State.

Clemson (-24½) 45, Louisville 10: A touchdown just before halftime put Clemson up 17-3 after a tight first half. The highly ranked Tigers only added seven points in the third to lead by 17 but posted two quick touchdowns early in the fourth to pull away before the teams traded late scores. Clemson had two turnovers but also posted a 551-263 edge in yards.

[correction] Ohio (-9) 45, Kent State 38: This contest turned into a MAC shootout with a 24-24 tie at the half before the pace slowed with Kent State tying the game with 10 minutes to go at 31-31. Ohio would score two touchdowns in the span of just over three minutes late in the game to pull ahead by 14 but Kent State would get a late score to get back within the number with 31 seconds to go on a 3rd down play, after converting a 4th-and-7 on its own side of the 50 earlier in the drive, with a stop there ending the game and holding the favorite cover for the Bobcats.

Florida (-3½) 38, South Carolina 27: The Gamecocks looked poised for a second straight upset in the SEC East with a 20-17 lead into the fourth quarter. Florida scored to go up by four and the Gamecocks had a fumble on its next possession and then was stopped trying to convert a 4th-and-2 with the Gators responding with touchdowns, in both instances while getting away with potential penalties. The Gamecocks got back within 11 with about two minutes remaining and actually had the ball back across midfield in the final seconds but Florida escaped with an 11-point win despite an even contest that saw the Gamecocks post 33 more yards and a solid rushing edge but with the officials squarely in the spotlight.

Kansas State (+4½) 24, TCU 17: A blocked punt set-up an early Kansas State score and that proved to be the difference in this Big XII clash despite substantial production edges for TCU. Gary Patterson opted to punt in Kansas State territory several times in the game and his conservative game plan would bite in the end as Kansas State put together a 95-yard touchdown drive late in the game to break a 17-17 tie, a drive in which Kansas State more than doubled its rushing total for the game on one 61-yard scramble and wound up converting a big 4th down instead of a medium-range field goal try. TCU reached the Kansas State 36-yard line before a costly sack made the down-and-distance too much to overcome and Kansas State won despite a massive rushing deficit in a turnover free game.

Georgia Southern (-7) 30, Coastal Carolina 27: The box score doesn’t look like an overtime game but Coastal Carolina held Georgia Southern off the scoreboard in the second half and got a fourth quarter field goal to force extra time. After matching touchdowns Georgia Southern went first in overtime #2 and scored a touchdown in one play to give a glimmer of hope to those on the favorite spread commonly at -6½. It took a lengthy drive and a 4th down conversion but the Chanticleers were able to even up the score. In the third period they settled for three and Georgia Southern converted a big third down and got into the end zone on the next play.

Buffalo (-18) 21, Akron 0: To say offense was tough to come by would be quite the understatement in this MAC game as Buffalo scored a first quarter touchdown and then neither offense scored again with total yardage running at 254-196. Buffalo had two fumble return touchdowns including a fourth quarter recovery that was enough to get past the heavy road favorite spread.

Oregon (-2½) 35, Washington 31: These Pac-12 North powers provided another great game as Washington held a 31-21 lead late in the third quarter. Oregon connected for a touchdown as time expired on the third, still trailing by three as a slight road favorite with the spread coming down from -3 by kickoff. Washington was held to back-to-back 3-and-outs as a Ducks program not often known for defense has led on that side of the ball this season. That set-up a season-defining drive for Justin Herbert and the Ducks, going in front by four with five minutes to go. Washington was a serious threat late but a sack and a penalty pushed the Huskies to eventually face 3rd-and-23 and while they got a big chunk to make it a manageable 4th-and-3, Jacob Eason fell incomplete with Washington just outside of reasonable field goal range as Oregon escaped to keep the Pac-12 alive nationally while narrowly cashing the favorite tickets.

Minnesota (-29) 42, Rutgers 7: The Gophers are now the last team standing in the Big Ten West now with a 7-0 start with the past five wins coming primarily against backup quarterbacks. Rutgers wasn’t a threat to win this game but the heavy underdog cover was in play with only a 21-0 deficit heading into the fourth. Minnesota scored three times in fewer than three minutes in the fourth quarter including an interception return touchdown as a late Rutgers touchdown to eliminate the shutout wasn’t enough.

Utah (-16) 21, Arizona State 3: The Utes turned in a dominant defensive performance but covering a more than two touchdown spread requires points and Utah led just 14-3 through three quarters. A muffed punt with just over five minutes remaining handed the Utes the field position it needed and on first down Zack Moss rushed for a 32-yard score to slip past the number.

Louisiana Tech (+2½) 45, Southern Miss 30: The Golden Eagles led 27-17 late in the third quarter but Louisiana Tech went 90 yards in just over a minute to climb within three as a slight home underdog. The Bulldogs took over in the fourth quarter with back-to-back scores and added a late exclamation point with an interception return touchdown to create a misleading final result in Conference USA play.

Baylor (+6) 45, Oklahoma State 27: The Bears trailed by three in the fourth quarter of this game but scored 21 points in four minutes to storm past Oklahoma State in stunning fashion in Stillwater, moving to 4-0 in Big XII play.

Texas A&M (-6) 24, Mississippi 17: Ole Miss had a substantial yardage edge and a 14-10 third quarter lead but a 62-yard fumble return touchdown shifted the trajectory of the game putting the Aggies in front heading into the fourth quarter. Mississippi had a missed field goal and an interception on its next two possessions and on a short field Texas A&M added a fourth quarter touchdown to go up by 10. In the final minute the Rebels reached the red zone but opted to kick a field goal down two scores and did not come up with the on-side kick for a brutal narrow loss for anyone on the home underdog at +6 of +6½

Virginia Tech (+4) 43, North Carolina 41: North Carolina led early but the game was tied in the fourth quarter 24-24. Both teams traded touchdowns in the span of 40 seconds late in the fourth quarter before overtime was needed. Field goals were exchanged and then North Carolina went first in OT #2 getting seven to give the road favorite a great chance to escape. On 4th-and-3 the Hokies not only converted but got the tying score. The third and fourth overtimes featured four missed field goals and the new overtime rules went into place for the first time, trading two-point conversion attempts instead of full drives after the fourth session, effectively sealing the spread win for the underdog Hokies. Both teams failed in the conversions in OT #5. The Tar Heels came up empty again in the sixth session before the Hokies sealed the upset.

Penn State (-7½) 28, Michigan 21: A more fascinating statistical game will be tough to find as Penn State jumped out to a 21-0 lead halfway through the second quarter and then wound up held to 85 yards the rest of the game. Michigan drew within seven with a late third quarter score but Penn State would connect on one more big play that they needed with a 53-yard touchdown pass early in the final frame. Michigan answered quickly to get back within seven and within the underdog spread that was commonly +9 before falling back to +7½. Michigan’s defense got a 3-and-out, but the offense couldn’t convert reaching 1st-and-goal and eventually coming up short on 4th down at the 3-yard-line, despite posting a 417-283 total yardage edge and a 26-14 first down edge.

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Eliminator Contest Week 1

The 2019 Eliminator Contest is starting this week with an update Thursday and the picks for games September 14-16.

20 national handicappers are in the field led by 2018 champion Weekly Wizard, who wound up 14-6-2 last season for his third Eliminator title!

Check out the field and the Week 1 Contest Selections for FREE, posted every Thursday afternoon.

The Double Plays can be purchased for just $9 each week, or for $50 for the duration of the contest

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1-Page Stats NCAA Week 1

Check out all of last week’s college football box scores in one-page!

This page is part one of the perks of our weekly Green Sheet newsletter – getting you the data from last week by Monday afternoon in one reference page to jump start your handicapping for the following week.

Check out this week’s 1-Page Stats page featuring all 83 games from last weekend plus the late August openers!

Sign up for the Green Sheet subscription to get this content every single week through the Super Bowl!

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Nelly’s 2019 Football Annual

Take a look at this year’s 2019 College and Pro Football Annual with predictions for the 2019-20 football season. This booklet features some summer predictions on conference and division finishes while also offering our weekly college football Pointspread Preview selections.

This is our 30th football season and the Annual provides a jump start to the Green Sheet and Phone Service seasons allowing us to put some of our off-season research into pre-season predictions, even if some of those predictions will need some adjustments by the time the season actually starts. Take a look at this year’s Annual by clicking the below link:

Nelly’s 2019 Football Annual – CLICK HERE

Thanks for checking out our content and we’ll hope to hear from you this football season!

Send us an email with your contact information to join our email or text lists with the opportunity to receive free picks and free issues of the Green Sheet periodically throughout the season.

Nelly’s Sportsline

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2019-20 Green Sheet #1

We have released a short off-season issue of the Green Sheet that includes the 2019 NFL Schedule Grid plus a coaching reference sheet to hang on to for the upcoming NFL season.

If you are not already signed up for the Green Sheet now is a great time to get on board as we plan to have several more off-season issues before the weekly subscription begins in late July.

Check out the first issue here – and save $10 on the full season subscription if you sign-up by May 10 using the COUPON CODE: MAY10

A $150 savings on the Nelly’s Full Season Phone Service for the 2019-20 football season expires on May 1 and a $100 discount will expire on June 1 – the phone service includes the full Green Sheet subscription as well.

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2019 MLB Win Total Opinions


BEST BET: UNDER 89 – Washington Nationals: Atlanta was by far the best team in the NL East last season and only won 90 games and while Washington being 82-80 last season despite +89 in runs signals a season of improvement, Washington might not have done enough to move up by seven wins. Patrick Corbin was a great add but the pitching staff wasn’t a major issue last season, allowing only 4.2 runs per game for an above average mark in the NL. Brian Dozier and Yan Gomes bounce-backs aren’t a given changing leagues and ultimately the case for the Braves, Phillies, and Mets to improve is strong. Losing Bryce Harper is replaceable on the field but it signaled to the roster that the team isn’t in it to compete for a title this year after falling short with great teams in several recent seasons. Washington had a huge 20-7 month of May last season that will be tough to replicate and this was a team that finished eight games below .500 from June 1 onward. It will be hard to match last season’s 11-7 mark vs. the Phillies and against the NL playoff teams Washington went a combined 17-28 last season as the great scoring numbers was built on a collection on blowout wins including outscoring the Marlins and Mets by 60 runs. Washington also went 5-1 vs. a historically bad Baltimore team in interleague play last season.


BEST BET: UNDER 77½ Wins – Pittsburgh Pirates: There is a lot to like about the pitching staff in Pittsburgh but run support could be a problem and there is room for inconsistency with the rotation after possibly getting a few overachieving seasons last year. Ivan Nova is also gone as a stable starter and Chris Archer has been more flash than substance in recent years. Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis look like NL contenders and Pittsburgh will have a hard time featuring a winning record vs. those three teams collectively as they did last season thanks to going 12-7 vs. the NL Central champion Brewers last season for a surprising outlier. Matching last season’s 14-5 mark vs. the Reds will also be a challenge with many expecting a rise for Cincinnati this season. Pittsburgh also went 15-5 in interleague play in 2018 beating up on the Tigers, White Sox, and Royals, three of the AL’s worst teams last season. In 2019 the interleague slate is featuring quality teams from the AL West, also adding to the travel miles on this year’s slate. For all that went right last season Pittsburgh still only won 82 games and getting close to that figure looks unlikely this season.

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BEST BET: OVER 93 – Los Angeles Dodgers: Starting the season with a losing record through May last season limited Los Angeles to only 92 wins last season but this was a .500 team in 44 one-run games. Los Angeles couldn’t run away with the West due to competitive Colorado and Arizona squads even though the Dodgers had the best scoring differential in the NL by a wide margin at +194. Signs are pointing downward for several of the other West squads and the pitching staff for the Dodgers should remain among the best in the NL. Los Angeles could be just as good at the plate and even better defensively with some of the changes they have made. As they have done several years in a row, if needed they will be mid-season buyers as this squad could get even better in the final two months ahead of the playoff push. This is a discounted price compared to last March on the Dodgers after a similar World Series finish in 2017 and ultimately a slide backwards from an overachieving Colorado team looks likely in 2019 while Arizona lost several key players as well. San Francisco and San Diego could improve but still appear to be far back from being contenders this season.


BEST BET: UNDER 74½ – Toronto Blue Jays: After being a huge disappointment last season many expect the Blue Jays to rebound this season. Getting better health from Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman is far from guaranteed and neither was consistently effective when they were healthy last season. The talented young offensive talent in the system doesn’t necessarily translate into instant success at the MLB level as well as this is a team with some exciting prospects but little proven MLB talent. Ultimately in a stacked division with Boston and New York likely to push 100 wins while Tampa Bay remains competitive, there aren’t going to be a lot of opportunities for the Blue Jays to pick up ground. Facing a likely significant deficit in the division race, valuable veterans could be shipped off as the trade deadline approaches as well as this looks more like a team building for 2020. Toronto isn’t likely to feast on Baltimore as they did last season as well going 14-5 in those matchups against a historically bad Orioles team. Despite the disappointment last season the Blue Jays were 10-6 in extra-innings games and 23-17 in one-run games while also going 13-7 in interleague play, records that simply aren’t likely to repeat.

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BEST BET: OVER 74 – Chicago White Sox: Chicago didn’t have the off-season they envisioned with the front office coming up empty in pursuit of several prominent free agents. With a big jump from last year’s win total of 62 on this price many are likely looking ‘under’ on this team. The AL Central still looks like a marginal group of teams and improvement isn’t necessarily likely for any of the other foes. Chicago has room to improve after going just 7-12 vs. both the Twins and the Tigers in the division last season while the White Sox lost 25 one-run games. Chicago was 17-12 last August before folding in September as the young nucleus on this roster has potential and the rotation has another year of experience after enduring a lot of growing pains last season. Alex Colome can shore up the bullpen and a favorable late April schedule could allow the young unproven team a productive first month to catapult to a season of improvement. Unable to land a big fish in the winter, management could also be a surprise buyer mid-season as well knowing that they might have a tough time luring free agents again next winter and making a mid-season deal could provide an opportunity. It also won’t be a shock if no team in the AL Central has a great record and a playoff spot is attainable for a team willing to be aggressive, with Chicago the lone potential big spender in the division.


BEST BET: OVER 71 – Texas Rangers: Texas got off to a 4-11 start last season and never recovered. 2015 Manager of the Year Jeff Banister was fired in September and 42-year old Chris Woodward takes over with a fresh perspective after helping the Dodgers to great success the past three seasons.Most view Texas as again one of the worst teams in the AL but it is not hard to envision seasons of decline for the Athletics (97 wins in 2018) and Mariners (89 wins in 2018) in the AL West. The Angels are also turning a page with new management while Houston doesn’t have much room to improve after winning 103 games last season. Texas went just 34-47 at home last season 28-48 in the division last year as there is a lot of potential for picking up ground. Texas went 6-13 vs. both the Angels and Athletics last season and getting closer to even in those series would provide a significant boost. Texas was also 12-19 in one-run games last season while losing seven extra-inning games and after a respectable run from late April to June the Rangers closed the season 29-49 after July 1 after falling well out of the playoff race. The Rangers have won with a marginal starting pitching rotation in the past and the team could find modest success with a collection of veteran newcomers that includes Lance Lynn, Drew Smyly, Edinson Volquez, and Shelby Miller. None looks like a home run pick-up but even if two of those veterans have respectable results it could stabilize the pitching staff. The lineup still has some potential even if former budding stars have not ever fully blossomed into franchise players and it won’t take a major improvement for Texas to hit this number with reasons to expect a slide back to the pack from several of the other AL West teams.

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Free NCAA Pick Thursday

#765 Belmont +3 over Maryland 2:10 PM CT

Maryland’s young squad surprised early this season but the Terrapins appeared to run out of gas late in the Big Ten season, dropping six of the final 12 games. While Maryland did get a big home win over Purdue in mid-February they also barely won games vs. Iowa and Minnesota and yet still were rewarded with a #6 seed in the NCAA Tournament despite a very weak non-conference schedule and an early exit in the Big Ten tournament. Belmont had an uncertain future on selection Sunday after losing in the OVC Final against Murray State. The Bruins played that game without center Nick Muszynski and the team still got the call with a First Four matchup in Dayton late Tuesday night.

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Belmont beat Temple by 11 in that game and then traveled to Jacksonville, now drawing an afternoon contest. Belmont looks like a team that could take momentum into the tournament and this squad plays fast with great offensive efficiency. Maryland can struggle with turnovers as that figures to be a key area of advantage for the slight underdog in this matchup and Belmont has the size to manage this matchup. Dylan Windler’s ability to spread the floor should provide opportunities for the Bruins with the senior a 42 percent 3-point shooter at 6’8”. Maryland looks highly vulnerable in this matchup and the low spread for a 6/11 contest should be telling.

Nelly’s is 24-13 so far in March and we are 24-12 in the NCAA Tournament the past two years. Sign up for March Madness to build on our huge season gains!

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Bobby Dalton is 5-0 the past two days and 33-13 in NCAA Tournament picks the past two years – get Best Bet plays for Thursday!

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MAC Championship Preview


Championship weekend kicks off in Detroit with the MAC Championship Game Friday night in Detroit. Northern Illinois has now represented the West in seven of the last nine title games while this is just the second appearance for Buffalo. Here is a look at Friday’s closely-lined championship game in the MAC.


Match-up: Northern Illinois Huskies at Buffalo Bulls  

Venue: At Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan

Time/TV: Friday, November 30, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2

Line: Buffalo -3, Over/Under 49

Last Meeting: 2017, at Northern Illinois (-8) 14, Buffalo 13


Buffalo has been the prominent MAC team all season since starting the year 4-0 with notable wins at Temple and at Rutgers. The Bulls started 6-0 in conference play to take a commanding lead in the East but slipped up at Ohio in mid-November before clinching the division title last weekend. At 10-2, it has been the best season record-wise in Buffalo history already and the Bulls will have two more opportunities to add to the win count.


This if the fourth season for Lance Leipold who won six Division III championships in eight years at Wisconsin-Whitewater and figures to be a candidate to be interviewed for major conference positions in the near future. Buffalo went 5-7 and 2-10 in his first two seasons before reaching 6-6 last year without getting a bowl invite.


Rod Carey took over Northern Illinois for the Orange Bowl at the end of the 2012 season after Dave Doeren was hired at NC State. In six-plus seasons he is 51-29 with the Huskies finishing in the top three in the West every season while this will be his fourth MAC title game, going 1-2 in three straight appearances from 2013 to 2015. A bowl win has eluded Carey, winless in five tries but the program has been a consistent force in the conference.  


The Dollar General Bowl in Mobile vs. a Sun Belt team has been the typical landing spot for the MAC Champion though there are not true ranked bowl tie-ins for the MAC. The Camellia, Famous Idaho Potato, Frisco, and Bahamas Bowls are also tied to the MAC with the conference featuring seven bowl-eligible teams including six that are at least 7-5 this year.

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West champion Northern Illinois is just 7-5 but the Huskies lost non-conference games to Iowa, Utah, and Florida State, while beating BYU for one of the nation’s most difficult non-conference schedules. The Huskies held this spot despite losing its final two MAC games to slide to 6-2 in league play, falling in single-score games hosting Miami and at Western Michigan in the final two weeks.


Northern Illinois has the top scoring defense in the MAC, allowing just 19.8 points per game while Buffalo was one of the conference’s top offensive teams, posting 35.5 points per game in conference play. These teams didn’t play in the regular season this year but Buffalo did face Eastern Michigan and Toledo in the crossover games for a fairly difficult schedule. Northern Illinois drew Ohio and Miami as both teams faced the second and third place teams from the opposing divisions.


Experienced mobile quarterbacks are on both sides with sophomore Marcus Childers playing significantly last season as a freshman for Northern Illinois. He posted worse numbers across the board this season however despite a similar record for the Huskies. Junior Tyree Jackson threw nearly twice as many touchdown passes this season compared with last season for Buffalo but he also saw major declines in most of his passing numbers compared with last season. At 6’7” Jackson is a difficult matchup for any defense but the Huskies have had great defensive numbers this season.


Only Clemson is allowing fewer yards per carry than Northern Illinois at just 2.6 yards per rush attempt on the season. The Huskies were only out-gained on the ground three times this season and never in MAC play with only Iowa, Florida State, and BYU holding a ground edge in this matchup while in six of eight MAC games Northern Illinois had a rushing edge of at least 96 yards.


Dominating the ground game has been the key to beating Buffalo this season as in the team’s two losses they had a major rushing deficit. In September Army out-gained Buffalo by 178 rushing yards and won 42-13 in Buffalo while in mid-November Ohio out-rushed Buffalo by 280 yards in a 52-17 result that prevented the Bulls from clinching the division at the time.

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Despite the 6-2 record Northern Illinois played almost exclusively close games in MAC play with seven of eight games decided by 10 or fewer points in either direction. The only lopsided result was a home win over 2017 MAC Champion Toledo but that game featured nearly identical production but a few big turnovers and special teams plays tilting the scales to the Huskies. Northern Illinois actually has a negative scoring differential on the season despite being 7-5, though they outscored MAC foes by an average of 5.3 points per game.


Buffalo outscored foes by an average of 11.0 points per game overall this season and 10.9 points per game in MAC play. Buffalo scored at least 31 points in nine of ten wins this season while five of seven wins for Northern Illinois came with 26 or fewer points scored by the Huskies as these teams have generally been in contrasting types of contests and whoever dictates the pace could have the advantage.


2017 Meeting: In mid-October Northern Illinois visited Buffalo and took 14-3 lead with a pair of early second quarter touchdown drives led by Marcus Childers who ran for the first score and threw for the second. Buffalo would answer with 10 points before halftime including getting a field goal following a fumble for a one-point game at the break, 14-13. Northern Illinois had 1st-and-goal early in third quarter before a Childers fumble and on the next possession the Huskies missed on a 43-yard field goal. Buffalo got zero points after an 81-yard drive early in the fourth quarter with a missed field goal that could have taken the lead and a few minutes later an interception in Huskies territory also cost the Bulls a chance to get in front. Northern Illinois missed another field goal in the final minutes as the 14-13 edge held after a scoreless second half filled with missed opportunities.


Series History: Northern Illinois is 10-0 S/U in this series since Buffalo joined the FBS ranks with the Huskies 7-3 ATS. Northern Illinois has been favored by at least seven points in every previous meeting as this will be the first time Buffalo has been favored in this series and in eight of the previous 10 meetings Northern Illinois has been favored by 14 or more points.


MAC Championship History: The MAC Championship has been won by the West representative in eight of the last 12 seasons and Northern Illinois has been six of the previous eight MAC championships, winning the title in 2011, 2012, and 2014, with the last title under current head coach Rod Carey.  

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 10

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 10


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 10th college football weekend to start November. 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.

Buffalo (-8) 51, Miami, OH 42: The home favorite spread grew from -6½ to -8 by kickoff and the result would come down to the wire in Tuesday’s high scoring MAC contest. Buffalo extended its lead to 35-21 early in the second half and maintained a 14-point edge late in the third quarter but Miami scored twice in the final three minutes of the quarter to tie the game, successfully recovering an on-side kick to set-up the second score. Buffalo answered with about nine minutes remaining in the game but the PAT was missed to leave the underdog Redhawks in position to cover. The Bulls stopped Miami on downs near midfield and then added a field goal to slip past the favorite spread with a nine-point edge. Down two scores Miami continued to move the ball effectively but a sack on the edge of the red zone led to the game’s only turnover. Buffalo wasn’t able to run out the clock as Miami would have another opportunity to spoil the favorite cover but needing to throw down the field, the Redhawks ended with four straight incomplete passes.

Kent State (-1½) 35, Bowling Green 28: The Flashes led by eight through three quarters closing as a slight favorite in this battle at the bottom of the MAC. Following a fumble Bowling Green made a late charge completing a 4th-and-7 and eventually scoring a touchdown to get within two with about five minutes remaining. The two-point conversion was successful to tie the game and both teams followed with 3-and-out possessions. Kent State got the ball back in good field position and broke a 34-yard run to sit in field goal range with fewer than two minutes remaining. The Flashes scored on the next play with an 18-yard rush for a seven-point edge. Bowling Green lost big yardage on a fumble on its final drive but retained possession facing 2nd-and-28 and then 3rd-and-12, with the Flashes sealing the game with an interception.

Toledo (-21) 45, Ball State 13: Toledo jumped out to a 21-0 lead in Wednesday’s MAC game with a defensive score on one of 10 turnovers these teams combined for in the game. Up 28-7 at halftime Toledo was even with the closing spread before adding a field goal in the final seconds to close the third quarter. Ball State scored a touchdown in the fourth but failed going for two, trailing by 18 on a spread that opened at -17 and closed at -21 for the Rockets. It wound up not mattering as Eli Peters threw two more touchdown passes in the fourth quarter as Toledo pulled away for a 32-point win despite only out-gaining Ball State by 94 yards.

Northern Illinois (-6½) 36, Akron 26: The Huskies managed 10 points in the final six minutes of the first half to lead by 14 at the break but Akron rallied in the third quarter, seemingly tying the game with a touchdown to trail 27-26. The PAT was blocked and returned the other way for two points as Northern Illinois took a three-point edge in the final quarter. Jalen McKie who had the PAT return score, would then intercept a pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Huskies added seven more points and wound up with the narrow favorite cover without scoring on offense in the final 26 minutes of the game.

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Central Florida (-10) 52, Temple 40: The Thursday night TV game in the American generated a lot of interest and the line wobbled all over the place, opening at -12 falling to -10½, climbing back to as high as -13 before crashing all the way back down to -10. Temple had its way offensively in this game and led 34-28 at the half with the ‘over’ cleared in just two quarters. Looking to keep the nation’s longest winning streak going UCF scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to lead by eight with Temple having an interception and a missed field goal. The Owls picked up an interception early in the fourth quarter and would add six points with about 10 minutes remaining in the game, trailing by two, with that margin holding after a failed two-point conversion bid. The Knights went 75 yards in six plays to go up by nine and Owls backers could feel the sting coming as Temple had to work to move down the field, reaching the UCF 20-yard-line on a 10-play drive but taking a sack and forced to go for it on 4th-and-20, coming up with an incomplete pass. With still five minutes to go the Knights couldn’t lay off the gas but UCF was stopped on 3rd-and-3 after Temple exhausted its timeouts just past the two-minute mark. UCF opted to kick the field goal from 32 yards, enough to earn the cover for many on the favorite with the middle possible as well.

Middle Tennessee State (-13½) 29, Western Kentucky 10: The Hilltoppers hit a 46-yard pass play late in the third quarter to enter the final frame down 23-10. Western Kentucky held the Blue Raiders to a short field goal early in the fourth to remain within two scores but falling outside the underdog cover. With a chance to get back within the number the Hilltoppers had a field goal blocked and then later in the fourth was forced to go for it on 4th down in their own territory. Middle Tennessee State added another short field goal to lead by 19 and a last effort from Western Kentucky ended in an interception.

Arizona (-3) 42, Colorado 34: Arizona had a big yardage edge but it was a two-point game at half-time and the Wildcats led just 35-34 through three quarters Friday night. Early in the fourth Arizona hit a 57-yard pass for a touchdown to lead by eight and Colorado couldn’t answer, opting to go for it on 4th-and-9 rather than kick a field goal with 10 minutes remaining. The Buffaloes got another shot after an Arizona interception with Colorado reaching the 18-yard-line before also being intercepted near the goal line and Arizona was able to run out the remaining five minutes of game clock.

Purdue (-2) 38, Iowa 36: Purdue led by 12 entering the fourth quarter but Iowa scored two touchdowns in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter with an interception leading to the second score as suddenly the slight underdog Hawkeyes were in front by one. After trading punts Purdue got the ball back near midfield and managed to waste the rest of the clock and line up a 25-yard field goal for the win, though for most Iowa still had enough to cover priced at +2½ most of the week before bouncing in between +2 and +1½ in the hours before kickoff.

Georgia Tech (-4) 38, North Carolina 28: The Yellow Jackets allowed an early defensive score but rallied to lead 21-10 at the half and 28-20 through three quarters. Early in the fourth North Carolina found the end zone and went for two, successfully tying the game. Georgia Tech was in position to quickly answer but fumbled inside the 10-yard-line but North Carolina would return the favor with an interception. Georgia Tech converted a 4th down play and then added a touchdown with three minutes remaining and then after another Tar Heels interception sealed the game with a field goal.

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Memphis (-11) 59, East Carolina 41: This game was tied halfway through the third quarter and Memphis led by just four well into the fourth quarter. The Tigers scored two touchdowns in the span of just over four minutes to pull ahead by 18 as a toxic against the spread season for a productive East Carolina team continued. The Pirates got back within 11 briefly but after a failed on-side kick East Carolina allowed an aggressive Memphis offense to get down the field. The Tigers opted to go for it on 4th-and-goal in a huge play for the spread outcome and succeeded to create the 18-point final margin. East Carolina had its own 4th down attempt in the final minute inside the 10-yard-line but the pass was broken up.

West Virginia (-1) 42, Texas 41: The Longhorns were a 3-point favorite early in the week before dipping to -2 or -1½ and in the hour before game time the number flipped as the Mountaineers closed as a slight favorite. Texas led by one at the half and by four through three quarters, adding a field goal to lead by seven in the fourth quarter. West Virginia completed an 11-play touchdown drive to tie the game with about six minutes remaining but Texas hit a 48-yard pass to lead by seven with just over two minutes to go. West Virginia didn’t face a 3rd down and connected for a 33-yard touchdown with just 16 seconds left on the clock to seemingly force overtime. The Mountaineers declined that opportunity and went for the win with Will Grier getting into the end zone for the one-point victory.

Army (-4½) 17, Air Force 14: Air Force had a few tough breaks in the first half to trail 14-0 but took advantage of a short field late in the third quarter to finally get on the board but the PAT failed, leaving the Falcons down eight with a spread that was +7 most of the week before sliding Friday night and Saturday morning. Army turned in a long drive and managed a field goal to lead by 11 but Air Force put together its best drive of the day to add a touchdown with about five minutes remaining. Down five the Falcons went for two and got it on a play that loomed large for the closing spread of 4½. Army had to punt as the Falcons were a threat to tie the game, eventually reaching the Army 38-yard-line before failing on 3rd and 4th down runs.

South Carolina (+2) 48, Mississippi 44: Ole Miss pulled ahead 44-34 in the first minute of the fourth quarter but South Carolina answered with a touchdown three minutes later to get back within three. The Gamecocks held the Rebels to back-to-back 3-and-outs and then broke a 69-yard run on 1st down, getting in the end zone a few plays later to take the lead. Ole Miss would reach midfield on a late possession but the Gamecocks held on.

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Auburn (-3½) 28, Texas A&M 24: The Aggies dominated the box score in this SEC West battle and led 24-14 through three quarters on the road. Early in the fourth Texas A&M missed a short field goal and then later in the fourth the Aggies had an interception at the edge of field goal range to keep the margin at 10. Auburn got back in the game going 71 yards in only two minutes to climb within three with about five minutes remaining in the game. Texas A&M reached midfield but had to punt and a strong return set Auburn up near midfield for the two-minute-drill. It didn’t take long for the Tigers to deliver going 58 yards in two plays as Auburn suddenly was leading and in front of the closing spread. Three penalties thwarted the final drive for Texas A&M as Auburn escaped with a very fortunate result.

Baylor (+6½) 35, Oklahoma State 31: A blocked punt return put Baylor up at halftime but two touchdowns late in the third quarter put Oklahoma State in front by 10. Baylor had a 75-yard rush to answer to trail by three going into the fourth quarter. Justice Hill scored with nine minutes to go as Oklahoma State was back in front by 10 but the Bears would answer with an 86-yard touchdown drive with fewer than six minutes remaining. Up by three the Cowboys would face a decision just past the two-minute mark, facing 4th-and-2 from the Baylor 36-yard-line. Oklahoma State went for it and took a sack setting up the Bears with great field position. Baylor wasn’t content to play for the tie and wound up in the end zone for the upset with seven seconds to go.

Massachusetts (+2) 62, Liberty 59: UMass led by seven entering the fourth quarter but Liberty scored three touchdowns in the first four minutes of the final frame to suddenly lead by 14. Massachusetts would answer to get back within seven and then forced a punt. The Minutemen converted a 4th down to keep hopes alive and eventually ran into the end zone with 25 seconds remaining. Liberty had a shot late but threw an interception at the 5-yard-line as time expired. It took three overtimes but starting the third session Liberty converted a 4th-and-1 rather than kicking a field goal but then two plays later lost the ball with an interception. Massachusetts did enough to get the game-winning field goal for the narrow win and cover for most, though Massachusetts did open at -3.

Notre Dame (-9½) 31, Northwestern 21: Notre Dame posted nearly double the yardage against Northwestern but had trouble pulling away with a 7-7 halftime score. Notre Dame scored twice late in the third quarter and pushed the lead to 24-7 early in the fourth. Northwestern hit a few big plays to climb back within 10, with a spread that opened at just -7 but briefly went as high as -10½ before settling back below -10. A blocked punt handed Northwestern great field position and suddenly the Wildcats were back within three after getting in the end zone on a 4th down rush. Notre Dame went 89 yards for a touchdown with about three minutes remaining to put the margin back at 10 where the final ended.

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USC (-15½) 38, Oregon State 21: USC had a 21-0 edge halfway through the second quarter but Oregon State climbed back in the game with two touchdowns before halftime. The seven-point margin held into the fourth after an exchange of touchdowns in the third quarter but USC broke a 62-yard run in the fourth to go back up by 14 following Oregon State failing going for it on 4th down in USC territory. The Beavers would wind up punting on the next two possessions while USC added a field goal that was critical to the spread outcome.

Washington (-8½) 27, Stanford 23: The Huskies went up 21-0 early in the second quarter in this Pac-12 North clash and that score held at halftime. Stanford battled back in the second half and closed to within seven with a field goal early in the fourth quarter. Washington responded in kind to lead by 10 with five minutes remaining on a spread that was -10 much of the week but slipped to -8½ by kickoff Saturday night. Stanford hit a 33-yard touchdown pass with three minutes remaining but missed the PAT. Washington wasn’t able to add points to get back in front of the number, pinning Stanford at the 15-yard-line. The Cardinal made a late threat but wound up intercepted in the end zone in the final seconds but Stanford had done enough in the second half to cover.