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Free NCAA Pick Friday

#622 Virginia Tech +7.5 over Duke 6:00 PM CT

As usual Duke looks like one of the most talented teams in the nation and the 8-1 record through nine games features a pair of very impressive wins at the bookends, beating Kansas in the opener and besting Michigan State on Tuesday with both of those games away from home. Going from Tuesday’s huge win in East Lansing vs. the preseason #1 to facing the ACC opener on the road will be a difficult turnaround for the young Blue Devils who have struggled with turnovers and free throw shooting. Virginia Tech also beat Michigan State and is already 1-0 in ACC play for new head coach Mike Young who took over after Buzz Williams left for Texas A&M. The longtime Wofford coach won 30 games last season including a NCAA Tournament win over Seton Hall last March. A 6-0 start with the Hokies has spoiled to 6-2 but the team has had a long layoff of more than a week to prepare for one of the biggest games of the season. The Hokies lost only twice at home last season including beating Duke 77-72 before ultimately ending its season with a two-point Sweet 16 loss to the Blue Devils as there will be no shortage of motivation even if the roster has turned over considerably. The Hokies are starting three freshman but Young’s impact has been instant with some of the best numbers in the nation shooting and taking care of the ball, including an over 43 percent 3-point shooting clip so far. Cassius Stanley is out of action for Duke to take out a possible matchup edge against a smaller Hokies team and at +7 one of the best shooting teams in the country is worth a look at home with Duke coming off a huge win on the national stage.

Nelly’s hit 62% in November basketball and we cashed with Furman in college hoops last night, nearly upsetting Auburn in overtime as a massive underdog. We’ve hit 64 percent in the NBA this season already – join us for a Friday night side play or consider signing up for an extended subscription as we are well on our way to a third huge season in basketball in a row.

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Eliminator Final 3

The 2019 Eliminator Contest is down to the FINAL 3 contestants!

Will Weekly Wizard claim his record 4th title with a back-to-back title run? Can long-time Nelly’s featured handicapper Bobby Dalton deliver the championship? Will Rocketman claim his first title? Don’t miss this week’s picks!

Each handicapper submits two selections each week, a single 1-point play and a double 2-point play. Each contestant is awarded points for losses and eliminated at 10 points.

The 2019 ELIMINATOR CONTEST IS UNDERWAY WITH WEEK 10 SELECTIONS FOR GAMES NOV. 16-18

CLICK HERE for the Week 10 Contest Single Plays

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

DOWN TO THE FINAL 3 CONTESTANTS!

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Eliminator Week 4 Picks

Each handicapper submits two selections each week, a single 1-point play and a double 2-point play in the 2019 Nelly’s Eliminator Contest. Each contestant is awarded points for losses and eliminated at 10 points.

The 2019 ELIMINATOR CONTEST IS UNDERWAY WITH WEEK 4 SELECTIONS FOR GAMES OCT. 5-7

CLICK HERE for the Week 4 Contest Single Plays

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

DOUBLE PLAYS WENT 15-5 IN WEEK 2 OF THE CONTEST & 13-7 IN WEEK 3 FOR 70% 2-WEEK RUN!

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Eliminator Contest Week 3

In our Annual Eliminator Contest each of 20 handicappers submits two selections each week, a single 1-point play and a double 2-point play. Each contestant is awarded points for losses and eliminated at 10 points.

The 2019 ELIMINATOR CONTEST IS UNDERWAY WITH WEEK 3 SELECTIONS FOR GAMES SEPTEMBER 28-30. Bobby Dalton and Rocketman Sports are still perfect at 4-0 through two weeks!

CLICK HERE for the Week 3 Contest Single Plays

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

DOUBLE PLAYS WENT 15-5 IN WEEK 2 OF THE CONTEST!

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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 Sep. 10

Check out this week’s 1-Page Stats page from the Nelly’s Sportsline Green Sheet newsletter.

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.

Get this page each week with a full season Green Sheet subscription – we’ll post this for a few more weeks but you’ll eventually need a subscription. The newsletter comes out Monday afternoon each week of the football season!

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Green Sheet Issue #2

Our second Green Sheet issue dives into the 2019 NFL schedule with nearly 3,000 words of analysis plus schedule numbers and rankings in seven categories for all 32 NFL teams.

Find out great nuggets from the schedule analysis: One team has a 30-44 S/U since 2000 scenario on the schedule and that squad is likely to be a favorite in that game. Three teams fall into a win total valuation situation that is 4-1 the past two years including pegging major collapses from the Jaguars and 49ers last season – teams that fell short of the summer win total numbers by 4.5 games! There is one team that fits a scheduling role that has produced teams combining to go 56-39-1 the past two years. Another simple schedule formula has produced the ‘over’ in five of six win totals the past two seasons and four squads apply in 2019. Find out those teams and more in Green Sheet Issue #2.

This is just a four-page issue and as such is only $6 instead of the regular $12 price – sign up right here!

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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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MAC Championship Preview

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

11/04/2018

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.