Beating Vegas: Rivalry Week

We were two-backdoor-points away from being perfect last week, thanks to Washington letting up late in the game against Arizona State – BUT – two out of three ain’t too shabby as we continue to beat Vegas this year.   Thanksgiving week brings us the beginning of the holidays, good food, family, friends and more importantly an entire week of football games.  Monday through Sunday we got something going on – but here at Beating Vegas, we’ll steer you into the right direction of which games to pay attention to. . .

LSU -4 at Texas A&M

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Thanksgiving Day ain’t just for the big boys.  While the NFL gets all the attention on Turkey Day, the SEC is not to be ignored.  Slating LSU against Texas A&M worked out to be a good game that should garner some attention on the holiday.  LSU is quite possibly the best four loss team in the country.  All four losses come to ranked teams and they loss those games by 2, 5, 10 and 6 points.  Their brand of football is an SEC standard – of dominating the line of scrimmage.  This is exemplified by their offensive line that pushes the ball at 6.2 yards a carry and a defensive front that limits the opposition to 3.4 yards a carry.  Usually a team that is so one dimensional on offense can get out-played by an athletic defense – but their one dimension is so good, it really doesn’t factor in.  Texas A&M looked like a “sleeper team” in the SEC (if their is such a thing) but the pressure got to them and they’ve been on a downward spiral.  Before last week’s lack-luster 23-10 win over UTSA, they lost three of their last four. Team’s that beat LSU usually have a good run defense – A&M’s is “decent” when at it’s best, allowing 4.1 yards a carry (working out a “clash-average” of 5.15 yards in the favor of LSU (yes, “Clash-Average” is something I made up, and it seems to help make sense of things).  LSU is coming off a tough loss to a good opponent and is playing with a lot of fire, A&M as of late,  plays as if they’re scared of their ow shadow.

The Pick: LSU -4

Auburn +17.5 at Alabama

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Keeping it with the SEC, here is a rivalry that is downright ugly.   The “Iron Bowl” has seen these two teams slug it out 80 times. Alabama leads searies 44–35–1, and currently is on a two game winning streak against Auburn.   Bama is by far the team to beat in the country and it really is going to take some kind of effort to beat them. . . They are number one in the SEC in total defense allowing 11.4 points a game and number one in total offense, scoring 40.3 points a game.  They are annoyingly good at everything they do.  Auburn is kinda-sorta the lower case version of Bama this year – and although Auburn fans will find that extremely offensive – it’s not a bad thing.  Auburn is scoring 34 points a game and allowing 14 — Auburn’s rush defense is allowing 3.4 yards a rush – which is great to see (Bama’s defense allows 2.2) and when it comes to pass defense, they are pretty much neck and neck – and you’d be splitting hairs to give the advantage to Alabama.  This is a rivalry game and Auburn knows what’s at stake for Bama if they lose.  17.5 might be too much even if Auburn, wasn’t good this year – but the “Baby Bama Tigers” will give Saban and his Crimson Tide fits in this one.

The Pick: Auburn +17.5

Purdue +20 at Indiana

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Oh Indiana, it’s pretty obvious what you are.  You’re a team that’s good enough to beat the bad teams and lose to the good ones.   It’s pretty black and white when you look at their wins and losses. . . BUT aside from all that, they need one more win to make it to some useless bowl game that will generate money for the university and will probably be played in front of a crowd of hundreds. . . BUT luckily for them, the last team on their schedule this season is an awful Purdue squad.  Isn’t it fitting that we talk about Purdue, and it’s Thanksgiving week?  . . . Okay. .  . Well the Purdue Boilermakers are dead last in total defense in the Big 10 allowing 39.4 points a game, that says a lot considering they are in a conference with such abominations as Rutgers, Illinois and Maryland. Purdue throws the ball a lot and leads the Big 10 in passing yards, mostly because they play from behind and only average 3.4 yards a carry.  They’re 23 touchdown passes are matched by their 23 interceptions on the year. . .Indiana’s offense is very similar and for the same reasons, except this is a team that has shown a lot of fight the last two weeks.  They were leading late against Penn State but let up, and had Michigan sweat out a 20-10 victory against them last week.  They are feeling confident, even in their losses and although 20 is a big number, Indiana is a team that can’t stop a nose bleed and when they do try to stop their nose from bleeding they end up poking out their eyes.

 

The Pick: Indiana -20

Four Game Teaser of the Week: (by the way, thanks UTAH for ruing it last week): Redskins +19; Air Force +21.5; Wisconsin -2.5 and USC -4.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Tricky Times

Last week we went a respectable 2 out of 3 but the one we lost was supposed to be the lock of the year – thanks Michigan.  As you can tell from last weekend, this is the time of the year in college football where it’s risky business laying it down on teams many expect to be “power-houses. ” We’ve been consistent here at “Beating Vegas” though and we will continue that trend no matter what is going on in the world of football!

 

Virginia Tech +1 at Notre Dame

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We’ve stood away from the Fighting Irish all year.  Basically  because it’s Notre Dame and they are the most fickle team when looking at them against the spread.  This week though, they play host to a Virginia Hokies team that is 7-3.  Notre Dame’s Deshone Kizer is doing all he can in a season where all is lost for the Fighting Irish.  Kizer has NFL aspirations next year and most see him as a first round talent – but hold up.  Low on the radar of many is Virginia Tech’s quarterback  Jerod Evans, whose numbers are very similar to Kizer’s except that he throws at a higher completion percentage and has thrown fewer interceptions (four to Kizer’s eight).  When looking at team defense and team offense, the numbers are nearly identical.   The only difference that stands out is the Virginia Tech pass defense. The Hokies hold opponents to a 49% completion percentage and have picked off the opposition ten times so far this year.  This puts everything on Kizer, as it’s been all year, and when lining up a healthier Virginia Tech against a beat up Notre Dame team that hasn’t been in sync all year, it’s kind of easy to lean on the side of Tech for this one.

The Pick: Virginia Tech +1

Arizona State +27  Washington

A lot of folks predicted Washington being upset by USC last week before it happened.  It was a shame, they were having a magical season, but in the world of college football – some will fall.  Washington’s loss came at the hands of a newly rejuvenated Trojans team, who are looking to gain respect back in the conference they once owned by default.  In no way, shape or form did the Trojans “expose” a weakness in Washington – they just beat them flat out.  With that in mind, Washington will be looking to impress the “committee” by putting on a show against the lowly Arizona State Sun Devils.  We told you last week that Utah would cover that -5.5 spread against Arizona State and they did it with the greatest of ease.  This time around, Arizona State plays a more talented and pissed off Huskies team with something to prove.   As reported on YahooSports.Com “The Sun Devils have allowed 64 plays of 20-plus yards (tied for 121st out of 128 teams nationally), 34 plays of 30-plus yards (123rd), 24 plays of 40-plus yards (127th), 16 plays of 50-plus yards (127th) and 11 plays of 60-plus yards (tied for 126th).” This is music to the ears of Washington quarterback Jake Browning who already averages 10 yards per pass and the running backs Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman who average 6 and 9 yards a carry respectively.  In short, the spread is huge, but Arizona State is too one dimensional on offense and too below average overall to compete against a loaded Washington team that is out to prove something to the world this week.

The Pick: Washington -27

Patriots -12 at San Francisco

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The 49ers are killin’ it right now, riding an eight-game losing streak and much like the previous post about a “pissed off Washington Huskies” team — the Niners welcome the New England Patriots to San Fran, after they just lost on national television to the Seattle Seahawks.  You think those kind of things don’t matter?  Think again.  The Patriots were favored by seven points in that game and then before kick-off the line moved – in their favor – to NINE points. . . and they lost.  Something got terribly lost in translation between the football-gods and the wise-guys in Vegas.  Tom Brady and Bill Belichick must be foaming at the mouth to get an opportunity to go against one of the NFL’s most putrid teams in the league.   The Niners give up the most points per game in the NFL at 31, and give up the most yards per game in the league as well (5.1 yards a carry / 180 rushing yards a game).  And although their pass defense isn’t dead last, and instead somewhere in the middle of the pack – they still give up nearly 250 passing yards a game at a completion percentage of 62%.   This is just bad news for the Niners, who are coming off an impressive loss at the hands of the Cardinals, only losing by a score of 23-20 to the Cardinals.  Yeah, when you start giving credit to teams for “impressive losses” it’s safer to go the other way. . .

The Pick: Patriots -12

Four Game Teaser of the Week:  Patriots to win;  Boston College/UConn under 49; Nebraska -2.5; Utah -2.5

 

Good luck and wager wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Bye-Week

First off, I want to apologize for not being able to post “Beating Vegas” last week – I had to fly down to South Carolina unexpectedly to witness the birth of a baby boy (Congrats to J & J).  If we’re using the “honor system” here, Beating Vegas would’ve went 2 and 2 last week, winning with Louisville and Air Force and losing with Colorado and West Virginia.  The Patriots didn’t play and that’s pretty much my NFL lock for every week of this season, so since they didn’t play on Sunday, it’s fitting that last week was my bye-week.

Michigan -20.5 at Iowa

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Iowa is playing host to Michigan who is ranked #2 in the nation at the moment.  It’s a prime time game and with teams being upset left and right, this could be Iowa’s one shining moment in an otherwise forgettable season for the Hawkeyes. Truth is though, the odds are stacked against them – in a very unfavorable fashion.  Usually night-home games go in the favor of the host, but Iowa has been bad on their home turf – losing to North Dakota State, Northwestern and Wisconsin.  Iowa has really taken a turn for the worst this year.  The offensive line has given up 24 sacks this year and their offensive numbers are misleading (60% pass completion, 4.3 yards a rush,  26.6 points per game) because they ran up the scoreboard against hapless opponents like Miami (Ohio), Iowa State  and Purdue.  Three times this year they’ve only scored 14 points in a game, and two other times were held to double digits.  Newsflash: 14 points will NOT beat Michigan; and putting up 14 against Minnesota and Rutgers is something a JV high school team should be able to do.  Michigan is allowing only 10.7 points a game,  and have only allowed 1250 yards through the air and less than a 1000 yards on the ground so far this year.  Albeit, Michigan is “kinda-sorta” flying under the radar with their questionable strength of schedule – this Iowa team is pretty much like any other team Michigan has exposed early and dominated.  This one might be the game to lay down something on the first half and the game.

The Pick: Michigan -20.5

UNC -11 at Duke

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There are a lot of double digit road favorites this week (as we see with our previous pick) and this one totes around one of the premier quarterbacks in the nation, Mitch Trubisky.  Trubisky is averaging 300 passing yards a game, has tossed 19 touchdowns to his 2 interceptions and is completing passes at a rate of 70%.  This Duke defense though is only allowing teams to complete 50% of their passes against them and have nabbed seven interceptions this season.  This is the same Duke defense that gave Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson and the Louisville offense fits a few weeks ago. . . Both of these defenses can’t stop the run, and Duke edges out UNC slightly on the offensive side of the rushing game.  Duke verses UNC is one of the most classic rivalries in all of sports, and although it is mostly noted as being a basketball rivalry, it’s a rivalry none-the-less.  Duke is a double digit dog at home against a team they hate, and on paper, they have what it takes to at least not get blown out – that’s enough for me.

The Pick: Duke +11

Utah -5.5 at Arizona State

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Last time we had Utah in Beating Vegas, they covered as a 10 point home dog to Washington; this time around they are a road favorite against the Sun Devils.  Utah is a throwback football squad that stick to what they do well, which is play defense and run the ball.  As a team, Utah is averaging 4.6 yards a carry and their lead back Joe Williams averages 6.3 yards a carry.  This offensive line takes pride in the run game and are able to get leverage against most defensive fronts.  Arizona State’s rush defense though is only allowing 3.5 yards a carry this season.  Impressive when looked upon at first, but do a little more research into this and you’ll find that most of their opponents come with aerial attacks, oh and Arizona State is dead last in the Pac 12 in pass defense this year letting up nearly 400 yards a game and 26 aerial scores.  Utah is third in the Pac 12 in rush offense, behind Oregon, who ran for 245 yards against this Sun Devil’s rush defense.  Oregon’s offensive line isn’t nearly as disciplined, strong or flat out – as good – as Utah’s so expect the Utes to have their way offensively against Arizona State.

The Pick: Utah -5.5

Four Game Teaser of the week: Northwestern -1.5; Wake Forest +46.5; Michigan -8.5 and Colorado State +16

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio