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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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Free Pick Saturday

#368 Washington +3 over Oregon 2:30 PM CT

Oregon won a thriller last season at home in this matchup, getting six in overtime for an upset of then #7 Washington. At 5-1 the Ducks looked headed for the Pac-12 title last season but they lost three of the next four. Washington only has two S/U wins and three ATS wins in the past 15 meetings since 2004 but the Huskies are a very serious threat this week to spoil any remaining national hopes for Oregon, while potentially opening back up the Pac-12 North race. Both teams won convincingly last week ahead of this big matchup that could again play a major role in the Pac-12 North race. Oregon had a closer game with Colorado than it looked Friday with a couple of a huge swing plays before halftime while Washington caught some turnover breaks to pull away in Tucson, but still is one of the best two-loss teams there is. The Ducks are often good for an occasional blowout to pad the stats but in closely-lined games Oregon is on a 5-13-1 ATS run since 2016 in games with a spread between +7 and -7. Mario Cristobal doesn’t have nearly the credentials of Chris Petersen who hasn’t been a home underdog since his first season at Washington in 2014 while the Huskies are 22-2 S/U at home since 2016. Had this line pushed to +3.5 it likely would have made our card but Washington is still worth a look as Saturday’s Free Play.

Nelly’s has a rare 3* top play today (53-35 run), Bobby Dalton has a 15* Best Bet, Point Train an early 6-unit Total, Big E has his next 20* Conference GOY, while Maximum has a big 8pack today!

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Eliminator Contest Standings

Check out the current standings through three weeks for the 2019 Eliminator Contest!

Click Here for the Current Standings

Double Plays have gone 45-35 the past four weeks combined and we are down to 18 contestants.

Don’t miss this week’s Eliminator Update on Thursday afternoon.

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NFL Wk5 Close Calls

NFL Close Calls – Week 5


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 or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 5 of the NFL regular season.

Seattle Seahawks (-1½) 30, Los Angeles Rams 29 (48½): The Thursday night NFC West clash lived up to its billing with a back-and-forth contest. The Seahawks led by one at halftime, briefly opening as a slight underdog but listed commonly a slight favorite at -1½ most of the week. The Rams had two 75-yard touchdown drives in the third quarter surrounding a short-field Seattle score but Los Angeles missed on a two-point conversion attempt to lead by just five. Early in the fourth quarter field goals were exchanged before Russell Wilson led a lengthy drive for the Seahawks and found the end zone on 4th-and-goal with 2:28 to go. The two-point conversion try loomed large on the spread result but DK Metcalf was unable to haul it in, leaving Seattle up by just one. The Rams had plenty of time to get into field goal range but Seattle challenged an incomplete pass and it was ruled that it was narrowly a wild interception from Tedric Thompson, a deflected pass that was juggled several times but was kept off the turf. Seattle was not able to pick up a first down to finish off the game however and it appeared that the Rams would sneak away with the win, reaching field goal range only to have Greg Zuerlein miss from 44 yards.

Baltimore Ravens (-3) 26, Pittsburgh Steelers 23 (44): The Ravens jumped out to an early 10-point lead but Pittsburgh took advantage of two interceptions to add a six points before the break to trail by four, getting close to the home underdog spread that mostly fluctuated between +3 and +3½. Pittsburgh scored first after halftime after another Lamar Jackson interception but Baltimore quickly answered with a field goal to knot the game at 20-20. Mason Rudolph was injured in the third quarter as the Steelers were down to undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges at quarterback. He did enough to lead Pittsburgh to another field goal with 2:37 remaining but Baltimore answered as Justin Tucker was good from 48 to force overtime, a kick that also sealed the ‘over’. The Ravens were forced to punt starting the extra session and Pittsburgh appeared to be on the move but JuJu Smith-Schuster lost the ball after a solid gain, with Baltimore narrowly recovering the fumble in bounds, effectively already in field goal range. A conservative approach followed as the Ravens picked up only six yards and Tucker hit from 46 for the win, though for many on the Ravens it wasn’t quite enough.

Oakland Raiders (+7) 24, Chicago Bears 21 (40): After a scoreless opening quarter in London the Raiders delivered 17 points in the second quarter for a commanding underdog edge on a line that climbed back up dramatically by Sunday, opening at -6 before falling as low as -4½ and rising all the back to -6½ and -7 by kickoff. The Bears suddenly also climbed back into the game in the third quarter taking advantage of good field position to score three touchdowns, going in front 21-17. The Raiders were on the doorstep to go back in front but Chicago got a fumble recovery near the goal line and the Bears were able to work their way out of danger into Oakland territory. Points weren’t added however but then it was the Raiders who were then pinned deep. A running into the kicker penalty gave Oakland a retry on a punt that would have left the Bears near midfield. Now facing 4th-and-1, the fake punt was on and Eddie Harris picked up the first down but appeared to fumble. On review the Raiders kept the ball and Derek Carr would go on to complete the 97-yard scoring drive to put Oakland back in front. Chicago crossed midfield on a late possession, but Chase Daniel wound up intercepted as Oakland moved to 3-2.

Arizona Cardinals (+3) 26, Cincinnati Bengals 23 (46½): These winless squads kicked a lot of field goals early on as Arizona held a 13-9 lead through three quarters and the ‘under’ sat in good shape. The Cardinals added three more to lead by seven and seemed to put the game away with a 37-yard touchdown run with about seven minutes remaining for a 14-point lead. Andy Dalton led a 79-yard scoring drive around the four-minute mark to get the Bengals back within seven and the Cardinals weren’t able to gain a first down while only running off 27 seconds. Dalton hit Tajh Boyd for two big plays and suddenly Cincinnati was in the end zone. The Bengals opted to kick for the tie rather than go for the win with the touchdown right at the two-minute warning, a score that was also extremely relevant for those on a total that hovered in-between 46 and 47. There was too much time left for the Cardinals as Kyler Murray led his first NFL game-winning drive using his arm and his legs to set-up Zane Gonzalez for another field goal for the win.

Carolina Panthers (-3) 34, Jacksonville Jaguars 27 (41): The Panthers took a 28-17 lead early in the third quarter but the Jaguars would fight back adding a touchdown to trail by just four heading into the final frame on a spread that was commonly +3 or +3½. The Panthers weren’t able to put the game away despite two chances to add points, missing a field goal and then getting stopped on 4th-and-1 at the 5-yard-line. Jacksonville settled for a field goal to trail by one with about six minutes remaining but the Panthers seemed to close the door with a 59-yard touchdown run. Incredibly the extra-point went right however as the margin stayed at seven. Jacksonville fumbled near midfield ahead of the two-minute warning but still wound up getting another shot, eventually reaching the Carolina 24-yard-line before running out of time.

Buffalo Bills (+3½) 14, Tennessee Titans 7 (39): Tied 7-7 through three the Bills turned in a 77-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter surrounded by the third and fourth missed field goals of the day from Titans kicker Cairo Santos. The Titans would get a late possession but punted with about four minutes to go and didn’t get another chance as the Bills escaped with a win in a matchup that could loom large late in the season in the AFC wild card picture.

Denver Broncos (+4½) 20, Los Angeles Chargers 13 (46): A 14-0 first quarter lead offered great promise for the underdog Broncos and that edge was pushed to 17-0 with a field goal following up a missed field goal from the Chargers. Los Angeles also fumbled for a touchback on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard-line in the final play before halftime. Most of the third quarter went by harmlessly but winless teams often find ways to give their opponents a shot. Joe Flacco wound up intercepted at his own 7-yard-line to seemingly put the Chargers right back in the game but Philip Rivers returned the favor with another red zone turnover. Denver’s defense wouldn’t get a shot to prevent the next score however with Desmond King returning a punt 68 yards for a Chargers touchdown near the end of the third quarter. Joe Flacco took a costly 3rd down sack on the next Broncos drive to push the field goal attempt back and Brandon McManus would miss. A few plays later the Chargers added three to wind up within one score. The Broncos were eventually able to hit a field goal late in the fourth to finally put the game away for win #1.

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4Q Covers Week 6

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 6


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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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#347 Oregon State +6 over UCLA 8:00 PM CT

Oregon State has clearly made a lot of progress to close the gap in the Pac-12 but ultimately three competitive losses vs. quality teams still add up to 1-3. The Beavers made a great late rally hosting Stanford last week and this game will be another winnable opportunity vs. a struggling UCLA game off back-to-back close finishes to start the conference season. Surprisingly Oregon State has won two of the past four visits to the Rose Bowl while UCLA is on an 8-16 ATS run as a home favorite since 2014.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson was injured last week late in a productive showing after a leg injury, replaced by sophomore Austin Burton who did give the Bruins a chance at tying field goal on the final drive. A big edge in the rushing potential certainly looks possible for the road underdog, averaging 5.3 yards per carry compared to only 2.7 for UCLA, 119th nationally. This line immediately fell from an opener of +8.5 to take it off our radar as a rated pick but the Beavers are still worth a look as Saturday’s free pick with another competitive effort in store.

Nelly’s has 2/3 offers in both NCAA & NFL action for this weekend – $25 each. We’ve won our NFL 2/3 three consecutive weeks, hitting 67% on the season in pro football while 7-1 in NFL 2* side plays!

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Thursday NCAA Football

Thursday Night College Football – Temple vs. East Carolina

An AAC East contest headlines the Thursday night pairing to open the October college football schedule. Here is a look at Temple and East Carolina, a game featuring one of the lowest totals of the week in a matchup of three-win squads looking for conference win #1.

Match-up: Temple Owls at East Carolina Pirates

Venue: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina

Time/TV: Thursday, October 3, 8:00 PM ET ESPN

Line: Temple -11½, Over/Under 46½

Last Meeting: 2018 At Temple (-10½) 49, East Carolina 6

East Carolina was a bowl fixture in the late 1990s through the mid-2000s. Steve Logan went 67-55 over 11 years for the Pirates with five bowl appearances and a successful transition to Conference USA. He resigned after a disappointing 2002 season and the program fell off a cliff with John Thompson going 3-20 over two seasons before being released. Skip Holtz took over and the program was relevant for five seasons before he jumped to South Florida and Ruffin McNeill was able to mostly sustain that success over six years including the final two years in the move to the American. After going 5-7 in 2015 he was fired and history repeated itself with an ugly short-term run for the Pirates under Scottie Montgomery.

The Pirates hope they have found a stable presence for years to come on the sidelines with Mike Houston. Still relatively young at 47, Houston led successful but brief runs at three different programs, most recently going 37-6 over three season at James Madison, including the 2016 FCS Championship which was the only title miss over the past eight seasons for FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. While his offenses ran the option at the Lenoir-Rhyne and The Citadel he has employed a spread at James Madison and at East Carolina, with hopes of capturing the high-scoring potential his Dukes teams had. There has been good balance so far with the Pirates rushing about 38 times per game and throwing 31 times per game.

An appealing underdog in the season opener, East Carolina lost 34-6 at NC State in a lopsided contest but the Pirates have quietly won three of the past four games. Two of those wins were over FCS teams however as last week’s narrow 24-21 win at Old Dominion was the first FBS win of the season. Against NC State and Navy East Carolina lost by a combined score 76-16 while out-gained by 236 and 246 yards respectively, though both of those games were on the road.

Holton Ahlers was named the starting quarterback late in the summer and the sophomore that completed only 48 percent of his passes last season but had 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions has mostly struggled this season. Ahlers has upped his completion rate to 54 percent but already has five interceptions and has lost a half-yard from last season in yards per attempt. East Carolina is running the ball with 867 yards in five games for 4.5 yards per attempt with Ahlers posting 186 yards on the ground and Demetrius Mauney leading the team with 199 rushing yards. Last season East Carolina rushed for only 3.6 yards per carry as there has been clear improvement.

East Carolina will host South Florida at the end of the month and will head to Connecticut in November but the rest of the AAC path is difficult with the Pirates likely to be a double-digit underdog in four of the next five games counting this week’s game. Since 2003 East Carolina is 24-21 in the home underdog role including a handful of power five upsets while on a 10-7 ATS run as a double-digit home underdog, even with those numbers deteriorating significantly in the ugly run the past three years.

Temple had a messy off-season after Geoff Collins left the program after two seasons to take over Georgia Tech. The Owls hired Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz but a few weeks later he was brought back to Miami after Mark Richt retired. Rod Carey was hired after a successful run at Northern Illinois and is now the fifth coach for the program since 2006, not counting Diaz or interim coach Ed Foley.

Temple hasn’t been thought of as one of the top Group of 5 programs often but since 2015 the Owls are 38-20 S/U and 39-19 ATS for records that few programs can match. Temple is 3-1 this season with wins over a pair of major conference teams but losing by 16 against a MAC team, which has some similarities to last season’s erratic start, opening the season with a loss to FCS Villanova before going on to win eight games. Last season’s game was obviously a big one with Collins returning to face his old team and Temple won 24-2 though with only a minimal production edge but catching huge turnover breaks with a 74-yard defensive score, a goal line fumble recovery, and a 65-yard interception return.

Carey replaced current NC State head coach Dave Doeren at Northern Illinois at the end of the 2012 season, making his head coaching debut in the Orange Bowl. He ultimately went 52-30 in six-plus seasons with the Huskies though going 0-6 in bowl games but with four division titles and two MAC Championships. Carey’s track record promoted running the ball and stopping the run with the Huskies ranking third nationally in per carry run defense last season. So far this season Temple has held foes to only 133 rushing yards per game on 3.2 yards per carry but the offense is led by the passing attack.

Junior quarterback Anthony Russo has thrown 151 times in four games and his season line is inflated by posting 409 yards and four touchdowns vs. FCS Bucknell in the opener. Against FBS completion Russo has completed just 49 percent of his passes and in those three games he has five interceptions and just six touchdowns and just 6.0 yards per attempt. In fairness he faced Maryland and Georgia Tech teams in two of those games and ultimately led his team to wins in those games despite the marginal numbers though three interceptions vs. Buffalo were certainly a big factor in the upset loss.

This is the AAC opener for Temple and three difficult games will follow this contest with a challenging West draw of Memphis and SMU in back-to-back weeks before hosting UCF. Temple also plays at Cincinnati late in the season as despite a 3-1 start there will be work to do to get to a bowl game. Last season Temple played UCF about as well as any of the other American squads in a 52-40 loss in Orlando while the Owls were able to beat Navy, Cincinnati, and Houston as this team shouldn’t be ruled out of the AAC East race either.

There aren’t many negative trends for Temple in recent years and the Owls are 11-3 ATS since 2014 as a road favorite while 27-11 ATS in all road games since 2013. Temple is 5-1 in the last six instances as a double-digit road favorite, though losing at -14 at Buffalo in September.

Series History: Meeting each of the last five years as AAC foes Temple is 5-0 S/U and 5-0 ATS in this series with every win coming by at least 10 points. Temple won 34-10 in 2017 as a slight favorite in the last trip to Greenville while the teams also met regularly in the late 1980s and early 1990s as fellow Independents. Temple is on an 8-1 ATS run in this series since 1989 and historically 7-5 S/U and 8-3-1 ATS in this series since 1986.

There is also a Sun Belt contest Thursday night to kick off the college football week as Georgia Southern visits South Alabama in a division crossover game. Both teams lost their conference openers last week and sit with just one win each on the season through September.

Match-up: Georgia Southern Eagles at South Alabama Jaguars

Venue: Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama

Time/TV: Thursday, October 3, 7:30 PM ET ESPNU

Line: Georgia Southern -10½, Over/Under 45½

Last Meeting: 2018 At Georgia Southern (-12) 48, South Alabama 13

Georgia Southern won 10 games last season and finished just behind Appalachian State and Troy in the Sun Belt East race finishing 6-2. In a 1-3 start the Eagles haven’t had their typical rushing success so far this season however. Losing badly to LSU was certainly forgivable and Georgia Southern nearly had an upset at Minnesota as this squad could still emerge as a winning team. Last week vs. a Louisiana-Lafayette at home Georgia Southern was soundly out-gained turning back to Shai Werts at quarterback but it was a three-point game into the fourth quarter.

Steve Campbell went 33-15 at FCS Central Arkansas and was considered a great hire by South Alabama, though the team did have mixed success over nine years under Joey Jones, including two bowl trips in six years after making the jump to the FBS level and a huge upset over Mississippi State in 2016. Campbell inherited an inexperienced team and the Jaguars mostly struggled in a 3-9 debut season. At 1-4 the returns have been no better this season though the Jaguars did give Nebraska a scare in the season opener. The only win came vs. FCS Jacksonville State though the only FBS home game was a difficult draw vs. Memphis. While South Alabama scored late to make a 30-10 game 30-17 last week, they were only minimally out-gained and rushed for 263 yards to offer some promise moving forward.

Series History: Meeting each of the last five years Georgia Southern is 5-0 S/U and 5-0 ATS in this series with every win coming by at least 15 points. The past two meetings have both been at home with a 24-9 win in 2016 for Georgia Southern in the last visit to Mobile.

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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.


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


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Eliminator Standings

Check out the current standings through three weeks for the 2019 Eliminator Contest!

Click Here for the Current Standings

Double Plays have been on FIRE going 28-12 the past two weeks combined.

Don’t miss this week’s Eliminator Update on Thursday afternoon.

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NFL Close Calls Wk4

NFL Close Calls – Week 4


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 or total in the fourth quarter last week in Week 4 of the NFL regular season.

Philadelphia Eagles (+3½) 34, Green Bay Packers 27 (46½): The 3-0 Packers jumped out to a 10-0 early lead but Philadelphia scored twice in the span of two minutes late in the second quarter thanks to Aaron Rodgers fumble to lead 21-13. They couldn’t get to the break with that score however as Rodgers delivered a touchdown with nine seconds to go to get back within one and to the delight of those on the ‘over’ with 41 first half points. Both teams added third quarter touchdowns but up seven Philadelphia went for two and failed in a bid to make it a two-score game. Green Bay was then able to the tie game heading into the final frame. Jordan Howard scored his second touchdown early in the fourth to put the Eagles back up by seven and another tie appeared imminent with Green Bay reaching 1st-and-goal at the 1-yard-line. Four straight incomplete passes followed as the Eagles kept the lead. Philadelphia gained 50 yards from that tough field position but had to punt back to the Packers with about five minutes to go. The Packers again reached 1st-and-goal but on second down Rodgers was intercepted as the Eagles avoided falling to 1-3 to start the season.

Carolina Panthers (+6) 16, Houston Texans 10 (47½): Kyle Allen had three fumbles getting consecutive starts for the Panthers after a great performance last week but the Carolina defense kept the team in the game. A 10-3 Panthers halftime lead was knotted 10-10 through three quarters after Houston cashed in on a short field following Allen’s third fumble. Early in the fourth quarter the Panthers hit a 55-yard field goal for a key play for those on the underdog, leaving room for the cover with a Texans touchdown on a spread that was commonly +4 but rose by Sunday. The Panthers held on defense and reached Houston territory on a late possession before pinning Houston deep. Deshaun Watson would give the ball up on a sack and Carolina added three more to lead by six. The Texans wound up with 28 seconds for one more chance but with no timeouts Houston only reached the Carolina 47 before needing to heave to the end zone.

Los Angeles Chargers (-14½) 30, Miami Dolphins 10 (44): The Dolphins attracted plenty of attention in this game having not lost to the Chargers in 38 years and the line dipped from as high as -17. The Dolphins trailed by seven at the break and by just 10 through three quarters but an early fourth quarter put Los Angeles up 17. An interception gave the Chargers the ball right back and they hit a field goal to lead by 20. Miami crossed the 50 on its final possession but was never a serious threat to score, gaining only two yards on the final 4th-and-12.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+2½) 26, Denver Broncos 24 (37½): Looking for its first win Denver stormed out to a 17-3 edge but the Jaguars managed a field goal just before halftime to get within 11. Out of the break the Jaguars spent over 10 minutes of game clock but eventually completed a 16-play touchdown drive that included a 4th down conversion to climb within four on a spread that dipped from +3 to +2½. Jacksonville’s defense forced a three-and-out and on the next possession the Jaguars needed only three plays to 93 yards for the go-ahead score. The Broncos could not answer with back-to-back punts before the Jaguars milked another seven minutes off the clock, getting a field goal to lead by just six. The door was open for Denver to go in front and Joe Flacco led an efficient 75-yard drive putting the Broncos up by one at the 1:32 mark. Gardner Minshew nearly lost a fumble early on Jacksonville’s final drive but in a scenario similar to the Week 2 loss to the Bears, the Broncos were hit with a costly penalty to advance the Jaguars 15 yards. Jacksonville was able to pick up a few more solid gains and Josh Lambo hit from 33 yards to give the Jaguars the outright win as Denver fell to 0-4 despite competitive results.