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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#638 Tennessee +1 over Florida 1:00 PM CT

With 10 losses Florida has been a disappointment this season with a roster many expected could compete for a national title. A big March run remains possible for the Gators but this valuation is a bit lofty for the Gators coming off a huge win over LSU with the current 6-2 run featuring mostly the worst teams in the SEC including a pair of wins over Vanderbilt. The only three road wins in SEC play for Florida came vs. foes that grade worse than Tennessee and after a run of back-to-back huge games vs. top conference contenders this could be a flat spot. Tennessee has had a challenging season coming off being a national force last year, with the loss of Lamonte Turner as season-changing blow. Tennessee has limped to a 7-8 SEC run but not without several competitive showings and still a formidable home court. Tennessee has won its last two home games and the team enter this game off a rare lopsided loss losing badly at Arkansas Wednesday after beating the Razorbacks soundly at home earlier in the month. Tennessee has not lost three consecutive SEC games all season and this game is critical given that a road trip to Lexington is up next Tuesday night. Florida has faced the 14th ranked SEC schedule for a favorable path that inflates the numbers and Tennessee has featured an outstanding interior defense this season that is among the best in the SEC. Tennessee allows less than 32 percent from 3-point range as well as the Gators aren’t likely to hit their season averages against a bigger Volunteers lineup. Tennessee has won four of the last five in this series with Florida last winning in Knoxville in 2014.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#702 San Francisco +4 over BYU 5:00 PM CT

14-7 San Francisco is 0-2 vs. Saint Mary’s in a 3-3 WCC start but both games vs. the Gaels were close while every non-conference loss came in a competitive game as well. All three home defeats have been top 100 caliber results and there is a lot to like about the offensive numbers for the Dons with strong shooting numbers all over the floor. Half of BYU’s losses this season have been overtime games but the only road win in the past two months came Thursday at Pacific. BYU is now drawing a third-consecutive road game on Saturday and a Cougars team reliant on 3-point shooting will face one of the top 3-point defenses in the WCC. San Francisco looks likely to dominate the rebounding in this game and have great interior scoring opportunities with some clear size advantages in this contest. Home wins over Yale, Southern Illinois, Sam Houston State, California, and Santa Clara provide support of a quality edge at War Memorial and the Dons won both meetings with BYU last season. A pair of huge home games are lined up next week for BYU making this a challenging spot on the schedule for the Cougars to be in top form, having scored 69 and 74 in the past two road games after scoring in the 90s in the past two home games for a clear contrast.  

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#147 Kansas +25 over Iowa State 11:00 AM CT

The midseason momentum Kansas gained from the close loss to Texas and the upset over Texas Tech has been erased with lopsided losses the past two weeks. While the offense has struggled and the initial glow of new OC Brent Dearmon has worn off, the defense has kept the scoring in check. The Jayhawks will also be a significantly higher underdog in Ames than they were in Forth Worth, Austin, or Stillwater even with a pretty-even grouping among those teams in the second tier of the Big XII. Kansas was only out-gained by 62 yards in this matchup last season and Iowa State is 0-2-1 ATS in the past three games as a Big XII favorite. The Cyclones are an average rushing team and can be overly reliant on the passing game which is not an ideal heavy favorite criterion, while Kansas has posted very respectable pass defense numbers and has out-thrown three straight Big XII foes. Iowa State may have a tough time matching the intensity of the past few games facing Oklahoma and Texas in succession with tense finishes in both games. Even with clear improvement for Kansas this season under Les Miles this will be the biggest favorite spread for Matt Campbell vs. a FBS foe since he took over at Iowa State in 2016 and in our data back to 1980 the Cyclones have never been this big of a favorite vs. a FBS foe with this year’s 6-4 squad not exactly looking deserving of a historic price. Kansas is on a 9-2 ATS run at +24 or higher and the points make sense in this situation with a possible letdown for Iowa State.

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Free Pick Saturday

#360 Oregon State +2.5 over Arizona State 6:30 PM CT

Oregon State has covered in six of the past eight in this series but has lost by double-digits each of the past two seasons. Jayden Daniels wound up not playing last week with a knee injury but after falling behind early the Sun Devils made a late charge behind Joey Yellen. Oregon State’s rise to respectability this season took a hit hosting Friday night TV action with a loss to Washington that was a far worse showing than the score revealed with the Beavers held to 119 yards. This is still the team second place in the Pac-12 North and winning this game is a must for a bowl bid with a finale at Oregon still ahead for the upstart Beavers. This line camping out at +2.5 to attract action on the road favorite looks favorable and the Beavers are worth a shot to get the job done today for a fourth Pac-12 win for the first time since 2013.

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4Q Covers Week 6

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 6

10/06/2019

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 sixth big weekend of the college football season to open the month of 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.

Temple (-12) 27, East Carolina 17: The Owls pulled away in the second half going up 27-10 with a field goal early in the fourth quarter. The defense got a stop after East Carolina moved past midfield but Temple had to punt back to East Carolina shortly after a delay due to the lights going out with just under four minutes remaining. It appeared that the game would effectively end with East Carolina stopped on 4th-and-2 but an offsides call gave the Pirates a new set of downs. A 37-yard gain put East Carolina into scoring range and a defensive holding penalty eventually gave the Pirates 1st-and-goal. With 29 seconds remaining Holton Ahlers hit C.J. Johnson for the spread-spoiling touchdown. Temple failed to recover the onside kick but appeared to score late on defense with time expired to miraculously save those on the favorite and the ‘over’, scooping up a desperate lateral attempt and returning it to the end zone. Officials would eventually controversially rule that the ECU player that made the lateral attempt already had his forward progress stopped as the points were not added.

Louisville (-4) 41, Boston College 39: Louisville was in control most of this game and pushed the lead to nine points early in the fourth quarter. A big run put BC within two early in the fourth however and the Eagles got a big defensive stop to get the ball back midway through the fourth quarter still in range. Boston College spent 13 plays to advance only 52 yards before kicking a go-ahead field goal with just over three minutes to go, leading by one as a slight underdog. Louisville reached a new set of downs from the BC 22-yard-line looking to strike for the win but with just over a minute remaining settled for the go-ahead field goal which was enough to hold the win but kept the Eagles winning against the number.

North Carolina (-9½) 38, Georgia Tech 22: North Carolina led 17-0 at halftime but just 17-7 through three quarters before an explosion of points in the final frame. Georgia Tech trimmed the margin to nine points with a critical two-point conversion success, but the underdog cover disappeared as the Tar Heels scored consecutive touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away.

Texas (-10½) 42, West Virginia 31: The Mountaineers led early and trailed by just four through three quarters in this Big XII clash, eventually out-gaining Texas with 463 total yards but also with four turnovers. A pair of interceptions handed Texas a pair of touchdowns on short fields early in the fourth quarter as suddenly the Longhorns were up by 18. West Virginia scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes but Texas also added a third short-field score in the final frame to escape with an 11-point win that was enough for many that supported the road favorite for an undeserved win and cover.

Minnesota (-14) 40, Illinois 17: The Gophers had a 20-point edge but a fumble return touchdown put Illinois back in the game, down just 13 heading into the fourth quarter. Minnesota added an early fourth quarter touchdown to get back past the favorite number, eventually adding a late field goal after getting a pair of defensive stops to avenge an ugly loss vs. the Illini from last season.

Navy (+3) 34, Air Force 25: Navy led 21-9 heading into the fourth quarter for a comfortable edge for the underdog but things went sour in the final frame as Air Force scored 16 consecutive points to lead by four with just over three minutes remaining with a missed field goal and a fumble mixed in for the Midshipmen. Navy regrouped to put together an 11-play touchdown drive to go back in front with just 23 seconds remaining and then with Air Force in desperation mode, the Midshipmen picked up a fumble for a late touchdown as time expired to pad the final scoring margin.

Oklahoma (-32) 45, Kansas 20: Oklahoma allowed 360 yards and didn’t seem likely to cover in this contest with only a 14-point edge at halftime. For just over a minute of game clock the Sooners pushed the margin to 35 points in the fourth quarter but Kansas quickly answered and eventually added a second fourth quarter touchdown to stay within the number.

Memphis (-15) 52, UL-Monroe 33: Memphis pushed the lead to 19 points in the third quarter but UL-Monroe hit a few big plays for back-to-back scores and climbed within six late in the fourth. A 68-yard touchdown run from Memphis ended the upset threat and then an interception return touchdown for the Tigers put Memphis back in front of the road favorite price with about six minutes to go.

Pittsburgh (+3½) 33, Duke 30: In a turnover-filled contest Pittsburgh made the most of its early opportunities taking a 26-3 edge early in the third quarter with several short field scoring drives. On an underdog spread that dipped down to +4 or even +3½, Duke would prove to be a late threat scoring four consecutive touchdowns including a go-ahead score with 1:29 to go. Duke hit one two-point conversion and failed on two others as the lead was exactly four. It wound up not mattering as Kenny Pickett was able to lead a late scoring drive to deliver the win for the Panthers, scoring with 38 seconds remaining.

Liberty (-4) 20, New Mexico State 13: The Aggies managed to tie this game halfway through the fourth quarter but the opportunity for New Mexico State to breakthrough with a win proved short-lived as Liberty answered quickly going 75 yards in only four plays as the Flames escaped Las Cruces with a narrow win and cover.

Georgia (-24) 43, Tennessee 14: Georgia led only 29-14 through three quarters but completed a lengthy scoring drive to go up by 22 and then a few minutes later delivered a 60-yard fumble return for a defensive score to get past the heavy road favorite number. Tennessee looked likely to climb back to cover in the final minute reaching 1st-and-goal but wound up with four consecutive incomplete passes.

Ohio State (-20) 34, Michigan State 10: The Spartans scored 10 points in the final 2:24 of the first half to turn a seven-point edge into a 17-point lead. That margin remained through an empty third quarter that included a missed field goal for the Spartans out of the break. Eventually Michigan State’s underdog cover was erased as Ohio State cashed in with just over 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to lead by 24. Michigan State caught a break with an Ohio State fumble later in the fourth to earn good field position, but Brian Lewerke was intercepted on the very next play.

Boise State (-24) 38, UNLV 13: The Broncos were in control with a 24-0 edge but late in the third quarter UNLV got on the board. Boise State would seal the game with a two-play drive going 70 yards for a touchdown with just over five minutes remaining to lead by exactly 24 where the spread commonly landed. With just over a minute remaining UNLV appeared to spoil that result with a touchdown, though they missed the PAT. The on-side kick attempt went quite wrong as Boise State returned it 39 yards to the six-yard-line and the Broncos went ahead and rushed in for the score with just a minute to go to get in front of the number by a point.

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4Q Covers Week 5

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 5

09/29/2018

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 fifth big weekend of the college football season to close September. 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.

Memphis (-11) 35, Navy 23: Navy wound up a with a pronounced production edge Thursday night against Memphis and the Midshipmen led 20-7 about halfway through the second quarter. Memphis returned the next kickoff 99 yards to get within six by halftime and in the third quarter the Tigers added 14 points including a 73-yard strike to put Memphis up 28-20. Navy added a field goal early in the fourth to boost the chances for the underdog but Memphis answered quickly to reach its greatest lead of the game up by 12. Navy had two late possessions but wasn’t much of a threat to add points.

Air Force (-19½) 41, San Jose State 24: San Jose State scored on its opening drive looking to back up last week’s win over Arkansas. The Spartans were also stopped on downs in Air Force territory on the next two possessions as they had an opportunity for an even better start. Air Force scored touchdowns on three of its first four possessions but had a costly fumble in the red zone just before halftime to lead by only 11 on spread that climbed upward Friday evening. Air Force scored 13 points five minutes into the second half helped by what turned into an accidental wind-aided on-side kick recovery to take a commanding 34-10 edge. After both teams botched scoring opportunities late in the third quarter a lengthy Air Force drive ended in a touchdown to put the Falcons up by 31 about halfway through the fourth quarter. With backup quarterback Nick Nash in the game, the Spartans connected for a 30-yard touchdown pass with fewer than four minutes remaining. Air Force then wound up going for it on 4th-and-short from its own 22 with a 24-point lead and fell short. Handed great field position, Nash put the Spartans into the end zone inside of two minutes to steal the underdog cover.

Arizona State (+4½) 24, California 17: After losing quarterback Chase Garbers just before halftime California managed to take a three-point lead early in the fourth quarter taking advantage of great field position after Jayden Daniels fumbled on a sack. Leaning on the running game Arizona State responded with a lengthy drive to get in front 21-17 with about five minutes to go. Cal failed going for it on 4th down on its next possession but Arizona State only added three to keep the game in play. Devon Modster and the Bears were not able to put together much on a late chance to keep its perfect season going, ultimately winding up with only 245 yards for the game. 

Wisconsin (-23) 24, Northwestern 15: The heavy underdog Wildcats hung around vs. Wisconsin but a 68-yard interception return in the fourth quarter suddenly put Wisconsin up by 21 despite the game being just 7-3 late in the third quarter. Northwestern had a 3-and-out to hand the Badgers the ball back with a chance to get past the favorite spread but the punt wasn’t handled as the Wildcats managed to recover the muff and with good field position found the end zone to secure the underdog cover. Northwestern actually adding another touchdown later in the fourth and had a two-point conversion attempt to get back within seven that came up short. It was another cover for the Wildcats in the series, while actually out-gaining Wisconsin and featuring a 21-13 edge in 1st downs but with two Wisconsin defensive scores allowed.

Wake Forest (-4½) 27, Boston College 24: Wake Forest and Boston College were knotted at 17-17 at the break but Wake Forest added a late third quarter field goal and an early fourth quarter touchdown to lead by 10. In that stretch the Demon Deacons survived an interception with a 4th down stop on defense. Boston College climbed back in the game with a touchdown completed from running back David Bailey throwing to get within three and within the underdog spread with just over six minutes to go. Wake Forest used up significant clock on a 12-play drive but couldn’t run it all out as Boston College had a late chance, eventually reaching the midfield on the final play.

Western Michigan (-15½) 31, Central Michigan 15: The spread on this game dipped from as high as -17½ to just -15½ at some outlets by kickoff. With a 24-0 edge through three quarters it didn’t appear to matter but Central Michigan put up a fourth quarter fight with nine early points. A Western Michigan touchdown with about five minutes to go put the Broncos back past the number but the Chippewas quickly answered with a 34-yard strike to score. Down 16 Central Michigan went for two and came up empty in a critical play for those that waited to play the Saturday prices.

Toledo (+2½) 28, BYU 21: BYU broke a 14-14 tie with a touchdown on a short field following a muffed punt to lead by seven as a slight road favorite. Toledo would answer less than a minute into the fourth quarter to tie the game before the teams traded punts and then empty possessions with BYU stopped on downs and Toledo having a fumble at the BYU 20-yard-line. The momentum swung back quickly as BYU quarterback Zach Wilson was intercepted on 1st down with a return all the way down to the 2-yard-line. Toledo punched in the touchdown on the next play and the defense was able to hold off a drive to the Toledo 32 in the final seconds behind BYU back-up quarterback Jaren Hall after Wilson injured his hand on the decisive interception.

Vanderbilt (-7½) 24, Northern Illinois 18: The Commodores jumped out to a 14-0 lead only about six minutes into the game and that score held through halftime. Northern Illinois managed a field goal and a touchdown early in the second half but Vanderbilt seemed to put the game away with a 38-yard touchdown pass late in third quarter. Another score was on the way early in the fourth but in settling for a short field goal, Vanderbilt kept the door open for the underdog. Northern Illinois would score just two minutes later and down eight opted to go for two, successfully trimming the margin to six points in an unexpected play with huge ramifications relative to the spread that was commonly at 6½ before rising to 7½. The six-point margin held with neither side offering much of a scoring threat in the final 10 minutes.

Oklahoma (-27½) 55, Texas Tech 16: Oklahoma’s victory was never in doubt, but the heavy underdog Red Raiders rushed for nearly 200 yards and were in position to cover with the ball back down 32. A fumble near midfield sealed their fate with about nine minutes to go and the Red Raiders came up empty in two late drives that reached well into Oklahoma territory while Oklahoma added one more touchdown to win by 39.

Notre Dame (-10½) 35, Virginia 20: Virginia led 17-14 at halftime and had a significant production edge at that point. In the third quarter the Irish ran 11 plays and the only 1st down they picked up was via a penalty but they wound up with an 11-point lead thanks to three Virginia fumbles, one of which was returned to the two-yard-line and another was brought to the end zone for a defensive score. That margin was right in-between a spread that hit as high as +13 but dropped on game day down to as low as +10. Virginia had two interceptions in the fourth quarter looking to climb back in the game while Notre Dame broke a 30-yard run for a touchdown. Down 18 Virginia opted for a 27-yard field goal with six minutes to go that was of no help to the underdog supporters.

Washington (-12) 28, USC 14: Washington led by 10 at the half and by 14 through three quarters after Michael Pittman had a 44 touchdown to bring USC back in the game. Washington fumbled near midfield to hand USC an opportunity in the fourth quarter but an exchange of punts followed. USC looked likely to earn the underdog cover late reaching 1st-and-goal from the Washington 5-yard-line but the Trojans weren’t able to get in. On its final possession Matt Fink brought USC across midfield and pass interference converted a 4th-and-10 play. The next throw was intercepted however as the Huskies escaped still up 14 after a scoreless final frame.

UCF (-42½) 56, Connecticut 21: The Knights nearly eclipsed this massive spread by halftime with a 42-0 advantage and with nearly six minutes left in the third quarter it was 56-0. The Huskies would score late in the third quarter for the first time and then again in the fourth to get the margin back to 42 and within the hefty underdog number. On its next possession UCF fumbled at the UConn 21-yard-line and then with two minutes remaining the Knights went for it on 4th-and-9 rather than attempting a long field goal. A sack on that play gave the Huskies good field position and Steven Krajewski fired away, getting the Huskies into the end zone with 19 seconds to go to secure the underdog win.

Stanford (-3½) 31, Oregon State 28: Davis Mills led Stanford to an early 21-0 edge but Oregon State made a late charge getting to 21-14 early in the fourth quarter. Stanford would answer to lead by 14 with nine minutes remaining but the Beavers kept the momentum on offense with a six-play touchdown drive to get back within seven with seven minutes to go. Oregon State’s defense forced a 3-and-out and the Beavers went 77 yards to tie the game with fewer than two minutes remaining. It was however enough time for Mills and the Stanford offense thanks to a 43-yard kickoff return as the Cardinal gained 29 more yards and connected from 39 yards for the game-winning field goal, though for many, the Beavers still collected.

Appalachian State (-14½) 56, Coastal Carolina 37: After the big win over North Carolina, Appalachian State found itself in a back-and-forth game with a 21-21 tie late in the second quarter. The Mountaineers managed two touchdowns in the final two minutes before the break to suddenly lead by 14 however. Appalachian State scored first in the second half but by the start of the fourth quarter the 21-point edge had been shrunk to 12. An interception return touchdown put Appalachian State up by 19 and they added another touchdown on a short field with about four minutes remaining. A late Coastal Carolina touchdown wasn’t enough to get back within the number in a game that was much closer in the box score than the scoreboard suggests.

Liberty (-7½) 17, New Mexico 10: Liberty led 17-3 through three quarters and had a significant yardage edge. With a common number of -7 the line did hit -7½ by kickoff and late Flames backers had reason for worry. An interception bailed out Liberty following a missed field goal and the defense again got a big stop as New Mexico went for it on 4th-and-8 early in the fourth quarter. The Lobos would not be denied on their final possession however, converting a big third down with 53 seconds to go and then hitting the end zone with 43 seconds to go to climb within seven for the final margin.

UL-Monroe (-14½) 30, South Alabama 17: The Warhawks led by just seven heading into the fourth quarter but back-to-back touchdown drives pushed the margin to 20 points with about seven minutes to go. South Alabama would go 75 yards in the next four minutes however to get back within the number and UL-Monroe did not make a push to add points late.

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Nelly’s Free NCAA Pick

#182 Liberty -7 over New Mexico 5:00 PM CT

Liberty is 6-2 S/U at home since the start of last season as the young FBS program hasn’t been content to just be invited to the stage. They beat 2018 MAC Champion Buffalo earlier this season and the 24-0 loss to Syracuse was a much more competitive game statistically than the numbers suggest. As a young Independent squad Liberty will need seven wins to be considered for a bowl game as they play two FCS games and this is the stretch of the schedule where they need to compile wins as there are a few difficult late season games on the path for a squad sitting at 2-2.

New Mexico has faced Notre Dame and rival New Mexico State in the past two games, hanging on narrowly last week 55-52 to hold off a late comeback to reach 2-1 on the season. Bob Davie is expected back on the sidelines this week after missing the past two games with a health situation and this year’s team is much more balanced than the past rush-heavy Lobos squads. Tevaka Tuioti has thrown for nearly 500 yards but on just 54 percent completions however for the Lobos. Normally underdogs with a potential rushing edge are appealing play-on teams but New Mexico is facing cross-country travel for his contest and last season they lost at home 52-43 in this matchup despite a 211-96 edge on the ground.

New Mexico has had the rushing edge in all three games this season but is just 1-2 ATS with the lone win narrowly covering while getting out-gained overall by a FCS squad. Liberty has put up big passing numbers behind senior QB Stephen Calvert with 8.9 yards per pass attempt and the New Mexico defense ranks 127th out of 130 teams nationally in allowing 10.4 yards per pass attempt, while allowing 7.2 yards per play on the season as the Lobos aren’t catching enough points with one of the nation’s worst defenses, playing far from home after two of the bigger games of the season on the schedule.

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Free NBA Pick Saturday

#547 San Antonio Spurs +3.5 over Los Angeles Clippers 9:35 PM CT

The Clippers moved to 21-14 late last night with a ‘road’ win over the rival Lakers, and despite the 11-point final margin it was a tight game most of the way. A Clippers team that has been short-handed most of the month got a big game from Lou Williams who recently returned from injury while Marcin Gortat also played a few minutes as the team is getting its roster back to full strength. This could be a challenging turnaround given the magnitude of last night’s game however.

The Spurs and Clippers have split a pair of meetings this season with the host winning both games though the Spurs are +33 in scoring in those games. Despite the lesser record the Spurs have the stronger average scoring differential and San Antonio has more quality wins. San Antonio played last night in Denver and had a hard-fought three-point loss vs. the Western Conference leaders, after beating Denver in San Antonio on Wednesday. San Antonio is on an 8-3 run with all three losses in that span coming very narrowly and the Spurs are undervalued as a team that is climbing its way back to Western Conference relevance. With both teams playing in second-straight games after big games last night, the points are appealing.

Nelly’s is on an outrageous 14-1 NBA run while 22-6 in basketball picks since Dec. 6. We have won our Saturday Basketball 2/3 Offer in back-to-back weeks going 6-0 on those picks. Get a NBA pick and two college picks for Saturday for $25 in today’s 2/3 offer.


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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#632 Georgia +3 over Arizona State 5:00 PM CT

Bobby Hurley’s Arizona State squad has started 7-1 but the team enters the season’s very first road game off a loss to highly ranked Nevada last weekend in a six-point game. The Sun Devils have a big week on tap with non-conference road games vs. SEC teams Saturday and Monday before hosting top ranked Kansas next Saturday. The seven-wins have included narrow quality wins over Mississippi State and Utah State in Las Vegas but also close calls at home vs. Cal-State Fullerton and Texas Southern. Arizona State went just 3-6 on the road in Pac-12 play last season and the Sun Devils are a risky road favorite in this game.

Georgia is just 5-3 with no wins of substance but this is a transition season for Tom Crean who looks to rebuild the program in Athens. Turnovers have been an issue but the statistical profile is encouraging for the Bulldogs and this will be a big opportunity at home for the team with by far the biggest non-conference home date on this season’s schedule. Georgia has one of the better defensive effective field goal rates in the nation and the team had had more than a week to prep for this opportunity.

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Conference Championship Notes

Conference Championship Notes

Playing for a championship is the goal of every program and eight conference champions will be decided on Saturday. College Playoff berths are not likely on the line in the Conference USA, American, Sun Belt, and Mountain West games but all four contests will be rematches to fill out the championship Saturday schedule. One of these teams should also get called for the top Group of 5 spot in the New Year’s Six.

CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP

Match-up: UAB Blazers at Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders

Venue: At Johnny Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Time/TV: Saturday, December 1, 1:30 PM ET, CBSSN

Line: Middle Tennessee State -1, Over/Under 44½

Last Meeting: November 24, 2018 at Middle Tennessee State (+3) 27, UAB 3

UAB wasn’t playing football two years ago and after a successful bowl season in last year’s re-boot the Blazers look to take another step this season with a division title and a shot a the conference title. Middle Tennessee State is also in the Conference USA Championship for the first time looking to keep a run of four consecutive championships for the East division champion going.

Bill Clark stayed with UAB through the two-year hiatus after coaching the Blazers for his first season in 2014 following one year at Jacksonville State. UAB was perfect at home this season in a 9-3 campaign though the team enters this game off back-to-back losses, falling 41-20 to Texas A&M and then in last week’s game in Murfreesboro. Senior quarterback A.J. Erdely miss three November games before returning last week with freshman Tyler Johnston filling in with similar numbers as both could see the field this week.

Rick Stockstill won a Sun Belt title in his first season with the program in 2006 and this will be his first trip back to a championship game, leading mostly successful results over now 13 seasons with an 87-76 record and no losing seasons in Conference USA play. Last year’s team had a lot of potential but his son Brent was injured most of the year. Back as a senior quarterback the younger Stockstill has posted terrific numbers this season and he missed most of the one conference game the Blue Raiders lost at Florida International.

These schools are only about 200 miles apart as a good crowd should be expected even with some potential rain in the forecast for Saturday.

Regular Season Meeting: These teams met just last week on the same field. The incentives were vastly different however as Middle Tennessee State needed to win to get to this game and shortly after kickoff knew that Florida International had lost to make it a win-and-win-the-division-title game. UAB had already clinched its division and had little at stake last week and it showed, ultimately posting only 89 net yards of offense and not scoring again after taking a 3-0 lead on the opening drive in an eventual 27-3 result.

Series History: UAB won last season’s meeting 25-23 while Middle Tennessee State has won four of seven meetings since 1995 with a 3-2 ATS run in lined games since 2000.

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AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP

Match-up: Memphis Tigers at Central Florida Knights

Venue: At Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Florida

Time/TV: Saturday, December 1, 3:30 PM ET, ABC

Line: Central Florida -3, Over/Under 65

Last Meeting: October 13, 2018, Central Florida (-4½) 31, at Memphis 30

This will be the fourth meeting in two seasons for these programs with UCF looking to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 25 games with a second straight conference title. The storyline however will be the absence of quarterback McKenzie Milton who was injured for UCF in last week’s win over South Florida.

In last year’s championship game these teams put on a show with Milton helping to deliver a 62-55 win in double-overtime with both teams eclipsing 700 yards of offense in a game with several big swings. UCF has won the regular season meetings the past two years as well, getting a lopsided home win last year and this year winning in Memphis by one-point with a second half comeback.

The Tigers are one of the nation’s top rushing teams with Darrell Henderson posting 1,699 yards so far and Memphis posting 6.4 yards per carry for nearly 276 yards per game. Replacing a highly productive quarterback, junior Brady White has been effective in his first season after transferring from Arizona State. Freshman Darriel Mack will start at quarterback for UCF with Milton out. Mack did play in entire game in the win over East Carolina but that has been his only meaningful action this season. He is much bigger than Milton and a serious rushing threat but likely not nearly the same caliber performer in the passing game at this point in his career.

Regular Season Meeting: In a highly anticipated rematch of the 2017 championship game Memphis took command early with a 30-14 edge until just before halftime. UCF trimmed the deficit to just six points in the third quarter and then took a one-point lead in the fourth. Memphis fumbled twice in the second half to wind up shut out in the second half at home and losing despite a 281-165 rushing edge.

Series History: Central Florida has won S/U 12 meetings in a row in this series going back to 2005 with the last win for Memphis coming in 1990 when UCF was not playing at the top college football level. Memphis has gone 4-2-1 ATS in the seven meetings going back to 2010.

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SUN BELT CHAMPIONSHIP

Match-up: UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns at Appalachian State Mountaineers

Venue: At Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina

Time/TV: Saturday, December 1, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN

Line: Appalachian State -18, Over/Under 59

Last Meeting: October 2, 2018 at Appalachian State (-25½) 27, UL-Lafayette 17

The Sun Belt split into two five-team divisions this season and will join the Championship Weekend with the inaugural title game this weekend after often featuring a full regular season schedule in this final weekend in previous years. There was great drama in determining the division champions this season with last week’s results meaningful and the heavy Sun Belt favorite to open the season, Arkansas State, did not make it.

Scott Satterfield led a 4-8 FCS squad in his first season in Boon in 2013 but has had a winning season every year since the program jumped to the FBS level in 2014. The Mountaineers are 3-0 in bowl games the past three years and 39-11 the past four years combined while going 28-4 in Sun Belt play in that span. Expect Satterfield to field interviews from prominent openings if he so chooses as he has done a remarkable job. This year may have been his best work as the roster appeared to be in a major transition with the loss of several key players from last season.

The one game in Sun Belt play that Appalachian State lost came without quarterback Zac Thomas at Georgia Southern and the numbers were dominant for the Mountaineers with a 255-108 scoring record in going 7-1 in league play. Appalachian State went 5-0 at home on the season and nearly upset Penn State in the opening week on the road.

Louisiana started the season 1-3 but losses at Mississippi State and at Alabama certainly are forgivable. The Ragin’ Cajuns beat Arkansas State at home 47-43 and last week earned this spot by besting rival UL-Monroe on the road 31-28. The Ragin’ Cajuns played both Appalachian State and Troy on the road for a difficult crossover draw and lost both games by 10 points in lower scoring games. In going 5-3 in Sun Belt play Louisiana outscored foes by just 24 points while being outscored overall on the season despite being 7-5.

Regular Season Meeting: As a massive home favorite Appalachian State led just 17-10 at the half before pulling away. The final score was 27-17 but Louisiana scored with 63 seconds to go to make the final margin tighter, though the yardage edge for the Mountaineers was modest at 372-328. The ground game was the key with a 266-140 rushing advantage for the Mountaineers at home.

Series History: These teams have met each of the last five years with five straight wins for Appalachian State, going 3-2 ATS including 2-1 in the home meetings.

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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 1, 7:45 PM ET, ESPN

Line: Boise State -2½, Over/Under 50½

Last Meeting: November 9, 2018, at Boise State (+2½) 24, Fresno State 17

These teams met in the Mountain West title game last season with a 17-14 win for Boise State with a 90-yard touchdown drive for the lead late in the fourth quarter. That was after Fresno State defeated Boise State at home the previous week to close the regular season. These teams also met in the 2014 MWC Championship, also a win but missed cover for Boise State.

The stakes are potentially higher this season as if UCF loses to Memphis now playing without its star quarterback, the victor of this game could be the highest rated Group of Five squad in line for a New Year’s Six bowl bid. Boise State is currently 22nd while Fresno State is 25th in those rankings. UCF is 8th and could potentially hold the highest ranked spot with a loss though that would be an unusual precedent to set as they wouldn’t be a conference champion and would likely look like a much less promising team without Milton.

Marcus McMaryion and Brett Rypien are both in the nation’s top 12 in QB Rating and both seniors are coming to the close of excellent seasons and careers. They have combined to throw only 10 interceptions in nearly 800 attempts. Defense has been the key for Fresno State however, second nationally allowing just 13.5 points per game with a significant edge in pass defense relative to Boise State. The Broncos are 119-7 S/U at home since 1999 for truly the toughest home field edge in the nation however.

Regular Season Meeting: As a rare home underdog Boise State fell behind 17-3 early in the third quarter. The Broncos rallied to win in the fourth taking a 24-17 edge while Fresno State had a missed field goal while getting stopped on downs in Boise territory on its final two possessions. Boise State had a 448-390 edge in yards and committed the only turnover in the game.

Series History: Boise State is 15-4 S/U in this series since 1996 with a 13-5 ATS record however Fresno State has covered in four of the past five meetings. This will be the MWC Championship matchup for the third time in the last five years with a 28-14 win for Boise in 2014 and a 17-14 win over Boise last season with the Broncos hosting all of those games. Fresno State did win S/U hosting Boise State in the regular season in 2013 and 2017 but has not won in Boise since 1984.

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