Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread. The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.
Judging Last Week: No excuses, most of us fell for that Utah trap. Vegas won out on that one, getting about 75% of folks to take the road underdog in that won. Although this weekly article is called “Beating Vegas” – you have to expect Vegas to swing back at you. Even if it’s a low blow. . .
Rutgers (+19) at Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Badgers defense averages 11.1 points a game. That looks impressive at first but after looking at their schedule it’s easy to see that those numbers are blown up after beating down opponents like Miami Ohio, Troy and Hawaii (one might even want to throw terrible Purdue in there for good measure). This year’s Wisconsin team has been tough to watch. They are not as dominant this year running the ball – still above average, but just not what we’re used to seeing. And they have to stick with the ground game, even through its struggles because quarterback Joel Stave just doesn’t have the tools to pose a serious threat against any opposing secondary. Add to the fact that Wisconsin wide out Robert Wheelwright has a serious case of the “drops,” it’s an all out struggle at times. Rutgers isn’t that much better. They have a 3-4 record but have gone score for score with a talented Indiana offense in a 55-52 victory, and gave all Michigan State could handle in a 31-24 loss. Getting destroyed last week by Ohio State didn’t surprise anybody, but getting whipped like that at home must’ve stung a bit. . . Rutgers has two running backs in Robert Martin and Josh Hicks who can bang in the trenches and help make it a “grinder” of a game. Wisconsin has lost the right this season to be a near three-touchdown favorite against a team that puts up a fight like Rutgers.
The Pick: Rutgers +19
Boise St (-20) at UNLV
This is the first time those funky Broncos from Boise State have been written about here. They’ve had an impressive season if you don’t look at their two losses, where they gave up 21 points in the fourth quarter to BYU and then got totally blindsided losing to Utah State 52-26. Boise has the number one offense in the Mountain West Conference and it’s led by wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck who averages a notch under 20 yards per reception. Although Boise State’s offense gets most of the attention (38 points per game) it’s their rush defense that will be a problem for UNLV. The Running Rebels of UNLV’s ground game is formidable, averaging 4.7 yards a carry and 213 yards a game, but they will be tested by a Boise State defense that allows only 2.5 yards a rush. What makes things worse for UNLV is that their passing attack is a work in progress, to say the least. Quarterback Kurt Palandech has added a little spark to the aerial attack, but not enough for Boise to worry about, especially since they hold opponents to a 50% completion rate and have 14 interceptions on the year so far.
The Pick: Boise State -20
Air Force (-7) at Hawaii
Here’s another match up out of the Mountain West conference. Hawaii has been abysmal offensively averaging 17 points a game. In true Rainbow Warrior fashion, Hawaii depends on a strong passing attack to move the ball. The problem is, they are completing less than 50% of their passes and have a total of eight touchdowns to fourteen interceptions. This leads them to fall behind quickly and abort a running game, that is pretty non-existent anyway. Air Force is the polar opposite when it comes to offense. They only attempt about 10 passes a game, but lead the Mountain West conference with a rushing attack that gets 333 yards a game. That average puts them third in the nation – a spot behind Baylor and a spot above LSU – which shows how dominant this run game is. The Air Force defense is strong against the pass and should only look stronger against this Hawaii air attack. Air Force hasn’t won a road game so far this season and that will surely change this weekend.
The Pick: Air Force -7
Green Bay Packers (-2.5) at Denver Broncos
Both teams are coming off of bye weeks and both teams are struggling offensively. We all knew coming into the season that the Broncos would have some issues, but Green Bay’s struggles are just confusing. Running back Eddie Lacy is about to lose his job to James Starks in Green Bay, and CJ Anderson has pretty much lost his starting job to Ronnie Hillman in Denver. Peyton Manning’s Broncos are 6-0 and it’s all due to the defense. Manning has seven touchdowns to ten interceptions so far this year, and on the ground the Broncos are only averaging 85 yards a game. Green Bay hasn’t been awful on the ground, just inconsistent – and their passing game isn’t bad at all – just not as explosive as we’re used to seeing. For a team that hasn’t looked crisp in their last three games – coming back and playing arguably the best defense in the league won’t be an inviting task. With all that being said – forget about the winner and the loser of this game – look at this over/under of 45.5 points. Vegas is playing the odds that the names of Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, under the lights of Sunday Night Football, will make casual fans want to see a shoot out. Be smarter than the casual fan.
The Pick: The Under at 45.5
If you must: Head coach, Bobby Petrino hasn’t gotten this Louisville offense where he’d like them to be and it’s an obvious work in progress. On paper, it would seem that Louisville as a twelve point favorite is a slam dunk, but Wake Forest has a pretty good defense playing at home. Wake takes a lot of shots through the air and this Louisville defense is letting opponents complete passes at a rate of 60%. Wake Forest +12 won’t be fun to watch, but they should cover.
Tease of the Week: (4 gamer) Iowa -5, Western Kentucky -11, Arkansas State -6.5 and TCU -2
Good Luck and Wager Wisely