Beating Vegas: Hate Being Right

This year at “Beating Vegas” we’ve been telling you how good it feels to be on a roll. . . last week we fore-warned our faithful followers though.  We knew something had to give, we knew we’d be pushing our luck – but at least we warned you.  This week, we’re set to get back on track.  Focus has been re-calibrated, vision is clear and the picks are in.  Let’s start another six week winning streak. . .


Baylor -3 at Texas


Unfortunately for us, and for Texas coach Charlie Strong, this isn’t as sexy as a match-up as we’d expect from these two schools.  Texas’ flame has certainly died down since their dramatic win over Notre Dame.  Even that win seems like an easy “w” at this point, with what we’ve seen out of Notre Dame this year. . . But Strong is now coaching for his job.  Texas is putting up 36 points a game, but also giving up 32 per contest.  Strong has gotten varying levels of consistency when it comes to the effort on his defense and that effort will be tested by Baylor’s offensive attack for all four quarters.  Baylor is currently where Oregon was in 2013.  The coach that built them up, Chip Kelly was gone and Mark Helfrich took over the team.  Helfrich used the blueprint he was given and it worked. . .until this year.  Baylor under coach Art Briles was one of the most exciting and high octane college football programs in the country.  Now with Briles getting shown the door (for reasons we won’t get into) Jim Grobe has become Baylor’s version of Mark Helfrich circa 2013.  Grobe is keeping this program moving in the same direction and hoping that the blueprint he was given will keep him around for  awhile.  Baylor is averaging 43 points per game and defensively allowing a Big 12 best, 17.2 points a game.  An issue Texas’ defense will see is that they already allow teams to complete passes at a clip of 65.4% and giving up a respectable 3.9 yards a carry on the ground.  This Baylor team runs at 5.7 yards a rush and forces the issue with the rush, going at it 50 times a game.  Quarterback Seth Russell has been throwing the ball at 57% this year and it should be smooth sailing for him to connect with the likes of wideout KD Cannon.  Baylor is still an offensive juggernaut in the NCAA and should be respected as one.

The Pick: Baylor -3


Nebraska +8.5 at Wisconsin


Nobody respects Nebraska it seems.  Everyone respects Wisconsin though.  This line makes absolutely no sense though.  Looking at the numbers, Wisconsin’s formula is pretty simple: rely on your defense.  Opponents are averaging two touchdowns a game against them, they’ve allowed only four rushing touchdowns and four passing touchdowns against them all year. Nebraska’s defense is no slouch either, only giving up 17.7 points a game and leading the Big 10 in interceptions with 13.  The difference between these two teams is that Nebraska has an offense and a battle tested quarterback in Tommy Armstrong Jr.   Armstrong is a dual threat QB who has already accounted for 17 touchdowns on the year.  The Cornhuskers have an offense averaging 34 points per game and they do it in the air and on the ground.  I understand the love for the Badgers who kept it close with Ohio State and Michigan, but where’s the love for a team that has looked legit all season long, in Nebraska?

The Pick: Nebraska +8.5


Washington -10 at Utah


Washington has looked great this year.  Quarterback Jake Browning has come out of nowhere and thrown for 1709 yards, 26 touchdowns and only 2 picks so far this year – making a name for himself in the Heisman running. . . coach Chris Peterson, is seemingly “doing it again” – and coaching up a school to national prominence.  Washington is a team some are already putting in their prediction as a top-4/playoff team.  That’s great, but can they play a team that plays some defense first? Washington’s explosive offensive machine will be tested by the defense of the Utes.  Utah was a team that last year, was the Pac-12 sweetheart until things went sour.  This year, they are playing host and looking to be the bad kind of host.  Utah is a tough place to play, as they have won their last five home games.  Utah is also a team that plays up to it’s competition.  When they played USC, UCLA and Cal this season – three teams with good offenses – the game stood within the ten point margin (losing to only Cal by five points) – so they’ve seen what good offenses can bring to the table.  Utah is usually coached very well and loves playing the role of underdog – this will be Washington’s toughest test yet.

The Pick: Utah +10


Four Game Teaser of the Week: Miami/N.D. over 46.5; Auburn/Ole Miss under 75.5; Tennessee -1.5; Boise State -1.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: En Fuego

This is the best we’ve done here at Beating Vegas.  We might be pushing our luck this week, but there are so many good plays and for many reasons this weekend.  Let’s get into them and keep this winning streak going!

Oakland Raiders +1 at Jacksonville Jaguars


The Raiders and Jaguars are two teams that find themselves on Beating Vegas for better and for worse.  Today though, we’re talking about the 4-2 Raiders and the 2-3 Jags.  The Jaguars came into this season with a lot of hype.  Some even thought they had a fighting chance to take the AFC South crown – for all things considered, the AFC South is pretty terrible so winning the division isn’t out of the question, but the Jags have been just grossly inconsistent.  Most of that is due to quarterback Blake Bortles falling grossly-low of expectations.  As of now Bortles has a quarterback rating of 80.3, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.   His yards per attempt is at a measly 6.8 and he at times just is as inaccurate from the pocket as he is flustered in it.  Maybe luck will be on Bortles’ side this week though, as the Oakland Raiders give up the most yards in the air on an average of 312 per game.  Aside from giving up the most passing yards in the league, the Raiders also are third in most rushing yards given up in a game.  Much like Bortles, this Raiders defense has failed expectations as well.  Traveling from Oakland to Jacksonville isn’t a fun trip, especially when the Raiders are still licking their wounds from the beating they took from K.C. last week.  Vegas wants you to take the Raiders here.  Don’t fall for it.  The Jags have the talent to protect home against a very inconsistent Raiders team.

The Pick: Jaguars +1

Hawaii +16.5 at Air Force

The Air Force rushing attack isn’t as strong as last year’s but that’s saying something considering they are averaging 275 yards a game on the ground at a clip of 4.8 yards a carry.  They run a very precise running game, built off of timing and attacking the weaknesses of the opposition.  This week the Hawaii defense is just full of weaknesses in their defense.  The rush defense is abysmal, letting the opposition trample them for 238 yards a game, putting them right with the defensive powerhouses of the NCAA like Oregon and Oregon State. . . Hawaii’s “strength” is running the ball – 198.4 rushing yards a game – but that’s when they can line up against trashy defenses like Nevada, Tenn-Martin and San Jose State.  Air Force has one of the better run-defenses in college football, only allowing the opposition 3.6 yards a carry.  There is not a run formation they haven’t already seen in practice and against Hawaii it’ll be as if this defense is practicing against a slow-motion-monitor.

The Pick: Air Force -16.5


Ole Miss +6 at LSU


This line opened at LSU being a three point favorite and in that short time the spread has doubled.  Trend-wise, the Rebels owned the Tigers last year 38-17 and LSU has one the last three of these meetings when they played host.  The Rebels can easily fall suspect to this LSU offensive line that is bossing opposition at the line of scrimmage for  228 yards on the ground a game.  Last week we went against LSU who was a 24.5 point favorite and they easily covered the spread AND made us look silly here at Beating Vegas in our only loss of the weekend. . . Ole Miss CAN run the ball (4.7 ypc) but they just chose not to and lead the SEC in passing yards and passing yards a game.  Arkansas has a much more balanced attack and Ole Miss lost to them by 4 points last week (at Arkansas) and Ole Miss is pound for pound the only team in the country that can keep up with Alabama.  If you’re given the chance to take a team like Ole Miss getting nearly a touchdown, how can you turn it down?  This is a big statement game for Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly, who already has draft scouts thinking he can be a first or second round pick.

The Pick: Ole Miss +6


Wisconsin -3.5 at Iowa


Iowa has had some bad losses and some ugly wins.  Wisconsin has had some tough losses and some impressive wins.  The tough losses for Wisconsin have them reeling from back to back games with Michigan (lost 14-7) and Ohio State (lost 30-23).  Wisconsin is one of those teams that fell victim to their schedule – OR – just fell victim to two teams that are nationally better than everyone but those dudes who play in Tuscaloosa.  Regardless, the Badgers need a rebound victory because at the end of the year nobody will care about how well they played in a loss.  Both teams have impressive defenses, Wisconsin allowing 15 points a game and Iowa allowing 19 points a game but the difference here is the level of competition.  Iowa was able to help themselves out with early wins against Miami of Ohio and Iowa State, then lost to North Dakota State and STRUGGLED to beat Rutgers 14-7.  Can we somehow emphasize that word even more?  STRUGGLED.  Do you know how bad you have to be to struggle to beat Rutgers?  Iowa couldn’t even put down Purdue without a struggle last week — Wisconsin will look to make an impact early in this game and take the crowd out of it.

The Pick: Wisconsin -3.5


Four Game Tease of the Week:  Patriots +5; Minnesota (Univ.) -5; Marshall -1 and UNC +4


Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras


Beating Vegas: Rollin’ With the Tide

Last week was the first time this season that the college picks went 1 for 3 – but things were all good as we scored perfectly with our NFL locks.  This week, looks like one where you have to keep faith in the hot hands and pay close attention to any trends developing.  We’ve been putting in work this season for you guys so keep checking for this column weekly and visit so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .


Cincinnati Bengals +8 at New England Patriots


Everybody in New England is still riding high on Tom Brady’s comeback performance last week against the Cleveland Browns.  Brady threw for over 300 yards with three touchdowns – but this week he’s going against a real team, and a real defense in the Cincinnati Bengals. . . eh, is he really?  The Bengals performance last week was pretty much fitting considering how they’ve underwhelmed at the beginning of this season.  The Bengals defense allows teams to complete passes at a rate of 60% and are allowing 4.4 yards a rush.  The Patriots have the kind of offense set up to do both, especially with Brady back and looking fresh-as-ever.  The Bengals might be able to take away the threat of the two tight-end sets the Pats love to sit in, but that only means the Pats will go to a power running game if the linebackers and safeties are paying too much attention to Gronkowski and Bennett.  This is going to be a problem for every team in the league this year against the Pats.  It’s at New England and it’s a single digit spread – smart money is riding the Pats right now.  How can it not be?

The Pick: Patriots -8

San Francisco 49ers -7.5 at Buffalo Bills


The elephant in the room is that the 49ers are second to last in rushing yards allowed per game with 146.8 and the Bills are ranked third in the NFL in rushing offense (5.1 ypc and 137 yards per game).  Also, after having a miserable season opener against Baltimore, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been doing what is asked of him and more (sometimes).  They are riding a three game winning streak in which their last two games included beating New England and Los Angeles on the road.  Now they’re back home and waiting on a 49ers team flying in from the west coast.  It might not be blistering cold weather they’ll be flying into but none-the-less, that jet lag and a 60% chance of rain on Sunday (yup, I checked) – could be enough to spell doom for Chip Kelly’s offense.  San Francisco knew when they played Arizona last week, they would get a heavy dosage of running back David Johnson, and yet they still couldn’t do anything to stop him.  Bills running back Lesean McCoy is averaging 5.3 yards a carry while quarterback Tyrod Taylor is averaging over 6 yards a clip.  The 49ers are a one dimensional offense, and that one dimension – their running game – is overrated, averaging less than four yards a carry.  Say what you want about Rex Ryan but if you’re a one dimensional offense and that one dimension is not impressive – his defense will eat you alive.

The Pick: Bills -7.5


Alabama -13 at Tennessee


Tennessee entered this season (again) with much hype.  They have the coach, the depth and even the experience at key positions on the field.  What has that gotten them so far?  Sloppy wins against two non-BCS conference teams and miracle victories in back to back weeks against Florida and Georgia.  Butch Jones’ team finally ran out of luck last week and lost to Texas A&M 45-38.  On the other hand, Alabama has been consistently looking like the best team in college football since week one. The fact that Vegas has them as a double digit favorite against a team as athletic as Tennessee and in front of a hostile crowd of over 100,000 people, says a lot.  Unlike Jones in Tennessee, Nick Saban has complete control of the emotions and focus of his roster.  Last week’s victory over Arkansas saw a final score of 49-30 and it really wasn’t even that close.  After the Crimson Tide were up by 25 points, they were  effortlessly going shot for shot against the Razorbacks.  Tennessee’s potential never comes to play – Alabama comes to play every week.  Anything less than a double digit victory is a failure in coach Saban’s eyes.  On average, Alabama scores eleven more points per game and allows eleven less points per game than Tennessee.  The Vols are allowing over 180 rushing yards a game, which spells trouble against a Tide team that is averaging 5.7 yards a carry.  Saban is a perfect 9-0 against the Vols, so that works in your favor as well. . .

The Pick: Alabama -13

Southern Mississippi +24.5 at LSU


Interesting game right here and maybe LSU’s legacy and SEC ties are giving them more respect than they currently deserve.  Or, maybe LSU is still a dominant force to those from the outside looking in on the SEC.  Whatever it is, this is a huge line favoring a team coming off of a 42-7 victory over Missouri two weeks ago. There are no surprises with LSU.  They will play tough defense and run the ball.  That’s all they pretty much can do because they have a non existent passing attack.  Even without their stud running back Leornard Fournette in the game, the Tigers were able to wreck havoc behind this offensive line with their running back combo of Derrius Guice and Darrell Williams (who combined for 293 rushing yards against Missouri).  Southern Mississippi isn’t the team they’ll be throwing against anyway, as this feisty unit still hasn’t allowed over 1000 yards passing against them after six games.  Teams only average a total of 11 receptions a game against this unit as well.  The run defense is average at best, allowing 4.5 yards a carry, but they’ll no doubt be leaving the wideouts in single coverage.  Southern Mississippi’s offense is ranked 12th in yards per game in the country, posting up 530 yards a game with a very balanced and strong offensive attack.  This is by far their biggest test of the year on both sides of the ball.  This is not a typical SEC non-conference-cupcake opponent for LSU.

The Pick: Southern Mississippi +24.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Giants/Ravens under 56.5; Ohio State +1.5;  Alabama -1 and Patriots +3.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Outsmart the Wise

Last week, the hot-shots at Vegas had some tricky lines but over here at Beating Vegas, we netted another winning week.  The NFL has left many scratching their heads as last year’s powerhouses like the Cardinals and the Panthers are struggling left and right, while teams like the Rams and the Vikings are proving to be the cream of the crop.  The hard-work will be accomplished here as we continue to give you winners against the spread though so keep checking for this column weekly and visit so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .

Washington Redskins +3.5 at Baltimore Ravens


The Baltimore Ravens finally played an above average team and lost their first game this season and the Washington Redskins became a .500 team with a “little” help from the referees.  In the NFL it doesn’t matter how you get your wins, but for our purposes, how you win is just as/and sometimes more important than the actual win. The Ravens have been fluttering around the league looking a notch below mediocre and coming out with victories.  Credit that to coach Harbaugh (no, the other Harbaugh. . .the one who’s actually won something in his career. . .) but as stated last week, the Ravens best weapon on offense is their kicker Justin Tucker.  Sure they should something last week with running back Terrence West, but that was more of a fault to the Raiders who couldn’t stop anything that was attacking the left side of their defense.  Joe Flacco has been inconsistent this season and the Ravens best option at wideout is the seventy-five year old veteran Steve Smith, who this week will be matched up against the Redskins’ Josh Norman (popcorn, anyone?).  The Redskins go as far as Kirk Cousins’ own mediocrity will take them.  Offensively they seemed to put it together last week – albeit it was against the Browns, but this might be the kind of game that gets Cousins back on track.  The Redskins have speed and talent at the skill positions and should easily spread the Ravens thin.  The Ravens win or lose games by single digits and the Skins always have the “talent” on both sides of the ball – it’s their execution that comes into question.  Take the talent.

The Pick: Redskins +3.5

Chicago Bears +5 at Indianapolis Colts


This is quite possibly the most disgusting game of the week. . . eh, maybe even the year.  The Bears have been showing no signs of turning fortunes around this season and getting their first win against a Detroit team that’s been a perennial loser for two decades is nothing to celebrate.  The Colts just lost to a Jaguars team that is one of the hardest to figure out – and it seems now that Andrew Luck’s frustrations are coming to a boil.  The Colts have the worst roster in the NFL today but Andrew Luck and Frank Gore are doing all they can to keep it together – by themselves.  The Bears are so bad as a franchise they’re actually considering leaving Brian Hoyer in at quarterback even if Jay Cutler is cleared to play.  I guess the Bears haven’t seen the story of Brian Hoyer being a starting quarterback in the NFL yet. . . most of us have seen it twice, two thumbs – wayyyy down.  So why would we bother watching this trash on a Sunday?  Easy.  Gore can run through the Bears front line and Luck can air it out against one of the most trash-bag secondaries in the league.  The Colts will struggle against Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard, and the Chuck Pagano coached defense of the Colts stinks.

The Pick: The Over 47.5

Syracuse +3 at Wake Forest


Each of these teams will struggle trying to get to six wins this season and that’s mostly because there is a gauntlet of talented teams in the ACC.  Unfortunately for Wake Forest and Syracuse they are not included in that gauntlet.  Defensively Wake Forest crushes Syracuse – if you look at the numbers, that is.  Wake allows 20 ppg compared to Syracuse’s 37 – but Syracuse has played the likes of Louisville, South Florida and Notre Dame; Wake has played Delaware, Tulane and Indiana. . . Wake’s rush defense is impressive only allowing 3.3 yards a run.  That’s nice and all, and would mean something – but Syracuse doesn’t run the ball.  Syracuse has a spread offense that averages 370 passing yards a game and completes 31 passes a game – this is tops in the ACC, a conference that has Clemson, Louisville and UNC.  This is bad news for Wake Forest who’s pass defense has allowed the fourth most passing yards in the conference and allows opponents to complete passes at about a 57% rate.  One of college football’s best kept secrets is quarterback Eric Dungey of Syracuse – he’ll have his way against Wake.

The Pick: Syracuse +3

Michigan -27.5 at Rutgers


Michigan has hit the “finally” mark this season.  Last week they “finally” played a worthy opponent and this week they “finally” play an away game.  Lucky for Michigan their first away game is against one of the worst teams in division one football, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.  Rutgers ranks 268th in passing offense and 225th in total yards per game. Defensively they are dead last in the Big Ten Conference allowing 32 points a game.  Pretty impressive to be dead last in that category considering it means you have to play worse defense than Illinois, Purdue and Penn State.  Michigan has already won by more than 30 points on three separate occasions this season against teams that are bottom feeders like Rutgers.  Add to the fact that Michigan’s rival Ohio State just lit up Rutgers 58-0 last week – coach Jim Harbaugh and his boys will look to outdo their rivals by giving Rutgers a beat down for the ages.

The Pick: Michigan -27.5

Washington -8.5 at Oregon

The fact that Oregon is apparently going to sport some cool “Webbed Feet” jerseys this week, should be enough to make anyone watch this game.  From a football stand-point though, Washington, after stomping out Stanford last week, is looking to put a stranglehold on the Pac-12.  Washington hasn’t beating Oregon in over a decade and the cards should line up for them this year.  They have the number one offense (45 PPG) and defense (12 PPG) in the Pac-12 but let us look at this in depth. . . three of the offenses they’ve played were Idaho, Rutgers and Portland State – not exactly the kind of heavyweights selection committees faun over. . . Last week’s huge win over Stamford had the Cardinal missing three offensive linemen, and two starters in their secondary – add to the fact that the Stanford Cardinal have no real answer at quarterback – safe to say it was a good time to catch them.  The only time Washington faced a real offense was against Arizona, where they came away with the win, 35-28.  . . College football pundits have been talking about the decline of Oregon, but one thing you cannot deny is that they can still score points (40ppg) and rack up over 500 yards a game.  Oregon lost last week to a Washington State team that will give anyone fits, and before that lost by three points in back to back weeks to Nebraska and Colorado.  Not saying Washington will lose this match up, but Oregon is going to come out with something to prove in what could be a “let-down” type of game for Washington.

The Pick: Oregon +8.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Colorado/USC Over 48.5; Michigan -15.5; Notre Dame +13 and Toledo -5.


Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio