Category Archives: NCAA

The Problem With Legalized Sports Gambling

May 14th, 2018 will go down in history as one of the most impactful days in sports history. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the federal ban on state sanctioned sports betting is “unconstitutional.”  Dan Patrick  put it best when he said “the floodgates are officially open for other states to allow sports betting.”

Many sports pundits and gambling professionals have made themselves vocal about wanting sports gambling to be legalized.  Bringing about the “unconstitutional” nature of denying citizens the right to gamble and because “everyone does it anyway.”

A sports betting room at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Prayitno

I am a sports-gambling enthusiast. I love the science that is sports-handicapping. I talk with other sports-snobs who understand that picking a winner against the spread – instead of “straight up” – takes more skill than people give it credit for.  My best literary works come during the football season, when I pepper social media with my “Beating Vegas” articles, detailing who I feel will “cover the spread” in college and professional football.  It’s fun.  I get it.  .  . for some people.

The truth about sports gambling, is that it is an addictive and dangerous hobby.

For as long as sports has been around, the sports gambling racket has been a main source of income for the criminal element.  The guy at the corner store, the guy outside the bowling alley, your grandfather – so on and so forth – the bookie, has been a part of every neighborhood forever.  Yes, even yours.  It’s a dirty world where if you don’t pay up – you can literally lose your life.

Now with the legalization of gambling across the fifty states, just coming in a matter of time, think about the dangers this now puts on society as a whole.

People who have no idea how addictive sports-gambling is, or who have never tapped into that addictive part of their personality will now see that with gambling being legalized, it is somehow harmless.  These people who have never ventured into the perils of “chasing bets” and hitting a string of bad-luck will now feel as if they have been invited to a fun new hobby that brings no-ill-effects.

Photo Credit goes to CalvinAyre.Com / Article written by Kirby Garlitos “NFL Prop Betting Part 1: Offense”

Also, for all of those who do gamble and think this is better than the “guy at the corner store.” At least you knew what the parameters were if you didn’t pay up – those things usually involved intimidation by use of baseball bats and / or turning over a your family-owned-business to the person you owed money to.  Although those parameters never scare off the  true degenerates – for the most part, people understand the code of the streets.

Now, if gambling is legalized.  Be prepared to pay taxes on your winnings and be prepared for government agencies to start garnishing your paycheck with no questions asked if you don’t pay up on your losses.  Be prepared for people’s credit to nose-dive and be prepared to see more people losing their homes. . .

Everybody thinks of sports gambling and they don’t realize, after the first game you bet on – one of three things happens to you.

  1. You win and automatically start thinking how you can win more.
  2. You lose and begin to wonder how you can win that money back.
  3. (this is the most dangerous of the three) Winning or losing doesn’t matter at all.  It was the rush and the thrill for those three hours that you want to re-live again.

I am not here to preach.  I would be a hypocrite if I told folks how to live their lives and give them every reason to not gamble on sports.  It’s more about society as a whole.

With sports gambling being allowed, this leads us – the regular folk – to think about a placing a $50  or a $100 bet as a legal means to make some quick and easy cash in a fun way. . . All the while – it’s the casino’s, the government and the sports leagues that will be the real winners.  The rich will continue to get richer at our expense.  ‘Merica. But we’re too blinded by the immediate opportunity to make money on a game – that we won’t recognize it.

The NBA has already said they want 1% of all wagering action on their entity. That’s now.  What stops them next year from asking for 2%. . .then 3%, so on and so forth.  Major League Baseball would be the biggest of hypocrites to take on a percentage (and even support) sports gambling.  If you don’t believe that, why don’t you go and Google, Pete Rose.

There is no doubt that the idea of legalized sports gambling is on the way.  Just because something is now legal – it does not mean it is okay to do.   Be smart.  And as I always say: “Good Luck and Wager Wisely.”

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Mockery Draft 2.0

About a month ago, I did my silly little mock draft and now because of some time to kill and anticipation for this year’s draft only being a few days away – here is another.   Now instead of going with just “my gut” – I’m going with my gut, what rumors make sense, what makes sense for the team selecting and a good amount of second-guessing on my part.  So enjoy the Mockery Draft, Second Edition.

Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America
  1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC:  There is a strong consensus saying the Browns will take Josh Allen, but I think that’s just a smoke-screen trying to bait anyone who’d pay a fortune for the number one pick.
  2. New York Giants: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State: In the original, I had the G-Men taking Josh Rosen. . .then I almost went with the consensus that would have the Giants taking running back Saquon Barkley – but out of nowhere I think the Giants take the guy who is as close to a guarantee in this draft when it comes to being a starter 10 years down the line.
  3. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: Kept this the same.  This is who the Jets want, this is who they’re going to get.
  4. Cleveland Browns  – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: Originally had them taking Chubb here, but in this case they go with Ward to help out that secondary that got toyed with last season.  Kiper and McShay have Barkley going here but running back is not a need for a team that has Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde at the moment.
  5. Buffalo Bills (in MOCKERY TRADE WITH DENVER)- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: I still have this going down and I still think it’s stupid.
  6. Indianapolis Colts – Roquan Smith, ILB/OLB, Georgia: Originally had Barkley getting drafted here but I have the Colts taking the best linebacker in the draft, who can be a leader to that defense for years to come.
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers– Derwin James, Florida State, DB: There is a lot of talk of keeping James in the state of Florida, I believe it.
  8. Chicago Bears – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame: Almost changed this one up – there is a good chance Nelson gets taken by the Colts or even the Browns.  If Nelson isn’t the guy for Chicago, and with Roquan Smith also gone – I’d expect Trumaine Edmunds to be the pick for Chi-Town.
  9. San Francisco 49ers – Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech: You can never have too many pass rushers in this league – especially while one of them is awaiting domestic abuse charges. . .
  10. Oakland Raiders – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama: Raiders have their eye on Smith.  They don’t get him in this version of reality and nobody wants to trade with them.
  11. Miami Dolphins – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Dolphins get the steal of the draft.  Jackson ends up starting by mid-season.  Fast forward 10 years from now – Jackson ends up being the best of the quarterbacks in this draft.
  12. Denver Broncos  (in MOCKERY TRADE with Buffalo)-  Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA : Still like this trade happening and love the fit for Denver with Davenport.
  13. Washington Redskins – Mike Huges, CB, Central Florida: Keeping it chalk two picks in a row.
  14. Green Bay Packers – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: The Green Bay front office is tired of hearing Aaron Rodgers bitch and belly ache about releasing his washed up buddy Jordy Nelson – so they give him a young target with exceptional route running abilities.
  15. Arizona Cardinals– Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: At the end of it all, Josh Rosen has to sit it out and be the last quarterback drafted out of the most-talked-about.  Cardinals make this move out of desperation and it doesn’t work out in the long run.
  16. Baltimore Ravens – Vita Vea, DT, Washington: I had him going in the twenties the first time around.  That didn’t seem right.  This looks like a Baltimore move though.
  17. Los Angeles Chargers – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: Chargers strengthen up an offensive line, for a quarterback in Philip Rivers who has the tools this year to give it all one-more-try.
  18. Seattle Seahawks – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: A lot of people have Barkley going top-five in this draft but all of that talk makes no sense.  This is a great draft for running backs and Barkley is one of those “looks can be deceiving” type of players.  As big as he his, he isn’t a “between the tackles” type of runner and has run out of the shot-gun and/or option his whole career.  This can work wonders in Seattle though, where that type of offense works well with Russell Wilson.  This is a premier spot for Barkley.
  19. Dallas Cowboys – DJ Moore, WR, Maryland: Originally had them taking Calvin Ridley, and although Joshua Jackson, corner out of Iowa or Harold Laundry, defensive end out of B.C. are probably the picks most others would assume, the Cowboys are looking to help out Dak and win with this offense as presently suggested.
  20. Detroit Lions – Harold Laundry, DE, Boston College: Almost had the Lions taking Sony Michel in this spot, but they can land a quality back in the second round.  Laundry is the last of the “real-upside” pass rushers in the first round.
  21. Cincinnati Bengals– Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State: Most likely they’d plug him in at center and they’ll go on to their general expectations of boring mediocrity for the 2018 season.
  22. Buffalo Bills – Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa: This pick ends up being a better long term one than their quarterback pick of Josh Allen (woof)
  23. New England Patriots –  Isaiah Wynn, G/C/T, Georgia Very unpredictable team, but here I think they’d lean towards the versatile offensive line prospect who they can plug wherever he fits best, on day one.
  24. Carolina Panthers – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU: Originally had them taking a bigger receiver over Sutton, but that’s just silly.
  25. Tennessee Titans – Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State : This guy wasn’t even in my original mock, but there’s a lot of buzz recently about him sneaking into the first round.  This would be a spot for him to land.
  26. Atlanta Falcons – Da’Ron Payne , DL ,Alabama: Falcons defense played better last year, no reason to stop adding to it.  Adding d-line talent against teams that like to run it like Carolina and New Orleans would help them out greatly in taking the NFC South.
  27. New Orleans Saints – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina: Oh lets just give one of the best offenses in football, the best tight end in the draft.  Brees can make this guy a pro-bowler in his first season.

     

  28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama: With Shazier gone they are going to need a new face for the future of this defense.  I don’t think Evans is a “face” type of guy – but definitely a quality starter.
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma: They said they won’t reach for anybody.  If this happens though, this is just dumb luck.
  30. Minnesota Vikings – Will Hernandez , G, UTEP:  This pick didn’t change for me.  A little bit of optimism here for a team that has very little needs, except for this one.
  31. New England Patriots -Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville: Pretty sure they need a corner. . . right?
  32. Philadelphia Eagles – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia: Sticking with this pick because it’s ridiculous and pound for pound, this is probably the best running back in this year’s class.

The Heartthrob’s Mockery Draft ’18

*Disclaimer: This Mock Draft was done before the trade between the Rams and the Patriots. A second version of this mock will be out before the draft as well.

My annual “Mockery Draft” is a way to poke fun of those who take themselves to seriously and be completely bias in what I want to happen.  Sure, I watch and love college football so I may know a little something here and there just from watching the games week to week, but does any of that really matter?  Trades and the unpredictable is what makes the draft interesting.  Here is my take on all of this craziness that may or may not happen in the first round of this year’s draft. . .

1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC: Just do something that makes sense for once, Cleveland.  I’m personally not in love with any of these quarterbacks but Darnold seems to be the one the Browns like the most.

Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America

2. New York Giants – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: They say Eli still has more in the tank, but they’d be foolish to not take a quarterback at this spot.  Once again, not in love with this quarterback class, BUT the guys this year have higher ceilings than those projected to come out next year.  Giants have to make this move now.

3. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma:  Yeah, I know – three quarterbacks in a row, won’t happen.  Well, it should.  Jets didn’t trade up to take anything else but a quarterback, trading into the third spot and not one or two means they have more love for another candidate not named Darnold or Rosen.  Mayfield comes with the fanfare and personality the Jets have been craving to see at the QB position.

4. Cleveland Browns  – Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State: Last year with the first overall pick they selected the draft’s best pass rusher in Myles Garrett.  Why not do the same this year and “book-end” these boys for the road ahead?

5. Buffalo Bills (in MOCKERY TRADE WITH DENVER) – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: In a move of pure desperation, the Bills draft up and select the next quarterback on their big board.  Allen is said to have the ability to throw the ball 80 yards downfield. . .that’s a talent you never need to really see in game situations though, so. . .yeah.

6. Indianapolis Colts  – Saquan Barkley, RB, Penn State – Colts traded with the Jets and got themselves the sixth pick a few weeks ago, and they better start doing something to help out Andrew Luck.  Barkley is one of my favorite players in the draft – but that’s because I’m a Penn State fan.  There isn’t anything that screams “3 down back” or “franchise back” about his game.  He’s a good kid, with talent that needs to be in the right system.  Colts have no system.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech; Bucs struggled with their pass rush this year.  Edmunds doesn’t get the acclaim Chubbs does, but in my opinion you’re splitting hairs about who’s better.

8. Chicago Bears – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame: This is my favorite team, this is their biggest need and this is my mock draft.  So in turn, they get the guy I want them to get.

Source: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America

9. San Francisco 49ers – Denzel Ward,  CB, Ohio State: Some may have them nabbing wide out Calvin Ridley here but for a team that has to play against three above average quarterbacks twice a year, taking the best corner in the draft is the smart move.

10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, ILB/OLB, Georgia:  I put this here because this is what I’ve been hearing for months now. At this point if it doesn’t happen, this entire draft will be a disappointment.

11. Seattle Seawhawks (in MOCKERY TRADE with Miami) – Derwin James, DB, Florida State: In my “complete trade” Miami also gets Kam Chancellor, so the Seahawks now have two glaring holes in their secondary.  James can play both safety and corner. . .but not at the same time. . . regardless, it’s a start in the right direction.

12. Denver Broncos  (in MOCKERY TRADE with Buffalo)-  Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA: They didn’t like that April Fools joke that Von Miller played on social media, about him being traded to the Browns. . . Elway doesn’t like people with bigger egos than his so he’ll look for Miller’s eventual replacement, who can in the meantime give them important snaps now.

13. Washington Redskins – Mike Huges, CB, Central Florida: Huges might actually be the best man to man coverage corner in this draft.

14. Green Bay Packers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama:  Packers have Burnett and Dix at safety but Fitzpatrick is probably better than either of them.

15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Cards got kinda-sorta lucky and didn’t have to give anything up to get the quarterback who is the biggest risk but comes with the biggest upside in this draft.

Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America

16. Baltimore Ravens -Colton Miller, T, UCLA:  They took the wrong tackle.

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: Hey, look who took the right tackle!

18. Miami Dolphins (in MOCKERY TRADE with Seattle) –  Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State:  This is a smart pick by Miami to get a guy who can play different spots on the line.  Adam Gase has got to start building this offense somewhere.

19. Dallas Cowboys – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama:  Ridley was once projected to be a top 10 pick, but here he falls to the Cowboys and this makes keeping Dez Bryant a little bit less of a thing after 2018.

Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America

20. Detroit Lions -Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma: In a lot of games, quarterback Matthew Stafford had to run out of the pocket a lot and just chuck it deep. . .I don’t know if that’s just how he’s played his whole career or because the o-line is bad.  I’ll guess a little bit of both.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Vita Vea, DT, Washington:  Will he last this long in reality?  Probably not.  I just didn’t want Green Bay to get him.

22. Buffalo Bills – Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa: This pick ends up being a better long term one than their quarterback pick of Josh Allen (woof)

23. New York Giants (in MOCKERY TRADE with L.A. Rams) Isiah Wynn , OL, Georgia:  Yeah, I’m believing in the hype.  The Giants trade Odell Beckham to the Rams, get this pick and probably a bunch more but they use it wisely and add a much needed piece to this offensive line (who can play every position).  Giants can easily take a wide out in the second and a running back in the third and have their offense set for the future.

24. Carolina Panthers – Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame:  The only reason they choose Brown over Sutton is because he’s bigger.

25. Tennessee Titans – Harold Landry, DE, Boston College: This ends up being a steal for this team.  They won’t make the playoffs because they have no quarterback but whatever.

Source: Leon Halip/Getty Images North America

26. Atlanta Falcons – Da’Ron Payne , DL ,Alabama: Falcons defense played better last year, no reason to stop adding to it.  Adding d-line talent against teams that like to run it like Carolina and New Orleans would help them out greatly in taking the NFC South.

27. New Orleans Saints – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina: Oh lets just give one of the best offenses in football, the best tight end in the draft.  Brees can make this guy a pro-bowler in his first season.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama: I kind of wanted to make them trade Bell in this draft and take a Sony Michel here, but I went with the boring pick. . .sorry guys.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars -Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU:  If it’s Sutton, Brown or Moore, they need to take a wide-out here.

30. Minnesota Vikings – Will Hernandez , G, UTEP: A little bit of optimism here for a team that has very little needs, except for this one.

31. New England Patriots  – Harrison Phillips, DL, Stanford: You would think after that Super Bowl debacle that they’d take a corner back here, but nah.  “The Hood” is too stubborn to admit when he was wrong, so instead goes with help on his d-line and with a player who we will be told is very intelligent and the kind of personality that will fit the New England Patriots way of blah blah blah blah. . .

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia:  This team knows Jay Ajayi can’t be the answer and they also know that Michel is one of the best offensive threats in this draft who can be a three down back.  The offensive minded head coach, can’t resist.

 

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

NFC North Draft Needs

Minnesota Vikings:

Draft Day needs in the Draft: Defensive Tackle and Guard.

Picks in rounds 1, 2, 3, 5, (three in 6) and 7

Source: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America

When you look pretty dominant all season long and then get embarrassed in the NFC Championship game, the disappointment will be pretty tough to brush off your shoulders for the coming months.  The Vikings showed no faith in any quarterback that was on their roster last year and let them all go in free agency.  Luckily for them, they won “the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes” so that is one less position to worry about in the draft. Having the 30th overall pick isn’t too sexy of a first round pick, but it also shows that you’re a good team that needs “just a little more” to push them to that next level.  There are some pretty good guards in this draft but they’d need a miracle to land  Quenton Nelson and some of luck for either Will Hernandez or Isaiah Wynn to fall to them at 30.  Texas tackle Connor Williams seems like someone who just may fall to them though.  In the second round, they may land a talent like USC Rasheem Green, who is  a versatile and athletic defensive linemen who can line up at defensive tackle but would probably be best suited attacking from the outsides.  When you’re a good team, you can also afford to be a little cute in the third round, like getting a wide-receiver/special teams threat like Dante Pettis or a guy who is a nice polished receiver like Daesean Hamilton out of Penn State.  Either one of these guys can go in the third or fourth, and with no fourth round pick, the Vikes would have to make up their mind quickly here.  Later in the draft, watch for another sleeper pick in the receiving core like South Florida’s Marquez Valdes-Scantling, or someone to add to their defensive rotation like Ohio State’s Chris Worling.

Detroit Lions:

Draft Day needs: Linebacker, Defensive tackle and Running back

Pick in every round except for the 6th:

Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

Let’s just be honest when it comes to the Lions: they are mediocre at best.  Sure with a new head coach, comes a newfound optimism, but we all know what Matthew Stafford is (a stat filler, who is praised by the Fantasy Football geeks) and we all know the limitations of their roster.  With the twentieth pick in the first round, their best bet is to go “best player available.” If they are lucky they should be able to get one of tho Alabama alums on their front seven.  Linebacker Rashaan Evans or defensive tackle Da’ron Payne could fill right in and be a day one starter. In the second round they could find themselves an athletic linebacker in South Carolina State’s Darius Leonard.  Offensively they’ve needed a running back since Barry Sanders, and this draft has plenty of them.  The Lions, could maybe hold out until the third or fourth and get themselves a quality back.  Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage is a nice sleeper who could go in that third or fourth round area.  Ballage is a big back (6’2″, 228 lbs) with power, speed and good hands who can prove to be a sleeper for any team in need of a back.  With a defensive minded coach though, he may look at some sleepers on defense in the sixth and seventh rounds like Tre Flowers, safety out of Oklahoma State, Garret Dooley, linebacker out of Wisconsin or Troy Apke, a safety out of Penn State, projected to go late in the draft, but adds some top level speed to the position.

Green Bay Packers:

Draft Day needs: Corner back, guard and tight end

Packers have 12 overall picks (one in each of the first three rounds, two in the fourth, three in the fifth, two in the sixth and two in the seventh)

Source: David Becker/Getty Images North America

The NFL is just dying to help out Aaron Rodgers, so they gave them four compensatory draft picks this season.  Rodgers doesn’t like his organization or his coach much and at this point the two sides seem like a marriage who will stick it out “for the kids.”  With that being said they are, as of now, the second best team in the division and need to compete with top tier teams in this league.  Although the goal with the 14th overall pick should be to take a corner, it might be hard for them to pass up a pass rusher like Marcus Davenport if he is around – but luck may be on their side and they’ll be able to nab the corner out of UCF Mike Hughes or even the safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who’s versatility all over the secondary and tackling ability would help them from day one.  This is another team that can go running back crazy in the third, fourth or maybe even fifth rounds.  Jimmy Graham has been added to a list of targets for Aaron Rodgers which includes Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, but Cobb at this point is just an overpaid part of this puzzle and adding a wide-out.  The sleeper wide receiver that I see fitting in well with Green Bay is Boise State’s Cedrick Wilson.  He’s a hard worker, with good hands and route running ability.  He’s also a tall receiver with speed who can be a red zone guy AND a deep threat.  The Packers have so many picks, their scouting team must be looking at players like Wilson and even more players like him who are on an even smaller raider with a high upside. . .

Chicago Bears:

Draft Day needs: Offensive Line,  Linebacker, Corner back

Draft Picks: 1, 2, two in round 4, 5, 6 and 7

Source: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images North America

The Bears were the talk of last year’s draft who moved up to get “their guy,” quarterback Mitch Trubisky of UNC.  Mitch didn’t look like a franchise guy last year, but the Bears barely resembled much of a football team in general in 2017.  The Bears addressed their wide-receiver issue by signing Allen Robinson as their new number-one wide-out and they even added Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton for good measure.  The offensive line seems to always be an issue with the Bears, even when they get it right personnel wise – an injury or two wreck all kinds of havoc. The Bears are hoping and praying they land Quenton Nelson, the Notre Dame guard, who might not only be the best offensive lineman in the draft but one of the drafts best players, over all.  If the Bears don’t land him in the first, they may try to trade back to land either Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn or another Notre Dame talent, the tackle Mike McGlinchey.  Chicago kept themselves busy in the offseason and even signed linebacker Aaron Lynch from the 49ers, but that’s not the “umph” that will help to put this linebacker rotation into the next level.  Much like what was mentioned earlier with the Detroit Lions, Chicago may find themselves looking at South Carolina State’s Darius Leonard or maybe even the freakishly athletic linebacker out of Georgia, Lorenzo Carter.   The Bears will look to get some depth and hopefully some sleeper talent with the corner position, and they may be able to find that in  later rounds with Arizona’s Dane Cruikshank or they may look in their state, Illinois State product Davontae Harris to be more specific.

 

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Beginning of the End

It’s that time of the year where the college football season ends and the NFL season is coming close to it’s own end.  For some who’s teams had a horrible season, or for those who chose to ignore the advice from “Beating Vegas” you’re glad the season has come to and end.  For those on the other side of the spectrum though . . .

Buffalo Bills +9 at Jacksonville Jaguars; Points Total: 39

I found myself cheering for the Buffalo Bills to get into the playoffs last weekend.  I remember when I was a kid, how amazing those teams were with Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Jim Kelly – albeit they never won a Super Bowl together. . .and the last time the Bill were in the playoffs – Doug Flutie was their starting quarterback (easy to see why they came up empty with a Super Bowl championship in that effort).   Now the Bills, after a quarterback controversy and fans of the NFL not knowing what to quite make of them – are in the NFL playoffs.  They find themselves up against a team that is foreign to the playoffs as well – the Jacksonville Jaguars.  It’s been a 10 year drought for the Jaguars and this year they have the NFL’s number one ranked defense.  If it’s true that defense wins championships, the Jaguars should have it made – but we all know it’s never that easy.  The Jaguars have been steadily forcing a rushing attack on offense, led by rookie running back  Leonard Fournette.  Fournette has seen most defenses stack the box against him this year, so his rushing average of 3.9 yards a carry and his total rushing yards of 1040 may not blow people away, but if he’s anything – he’s reliable.  The pressure is all on Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles.  His 21 touchdown passes are easily forgotten by the fact he’s had 13 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles on the year.  Bortles just never has amounted to the hype he had when he came out of college in 2014.  He should have some decent looks when going against a secondary that has allowed quarterbacks to complete 65% of their passes.  Buffalo as an offense though only has more total yardage than three other teams in the league (Bears, Colts and Bengals).  This is another team who’s offensive focus is the run, and their leading rusher LeSean McCoy averages just at 4 yards a carry – and is a game time decision as of now (January 2nd).  The Bills do not have the receiving talent to challenge the best secondary in the league, so this one should be a tough go for Tyrod Taylor and the Bills.  Expect the Jags to win this game, but don’t expect a lot of fireworks.

The Pick: The Under at 39

Tennessee Titans +9 at Kansas City Chiefs; Points Total: 45

It happens every year.  One team does it, every year.  One team slips into the playoffs and nobody has a clue as to “why.”  This year, that team is the Tennessee Titans.  The Kansas City Chiefs on the other hand started the season looking like the best team in football. . .and then they looked like a totally different squad who could miss the playoffs.  As fate would have it though, the Chiefs finished off the season with four wins in a row, and seem to resemble more of what we saw earlier in the season.  Kansas City’s pass defense should have a walk in the park, considering they hold the opposition to a 57% completion percentage (second best in the league) and are going up against Marcus Mariota who is one of the worst road-quarterbacks in the NFL.  Forget about “the road” though, Mariota has been flat out bad for the better part of the 2017 season. The Titans are relying on a rushing attack led by Derrick Henry, and his success will be determined by how much of a threat Mariota is – the problem is – he won’t be.  There is no reason to believe Mariota will revive any of his Oregon Duck majestics to come away with a win here.  The only thing about laying down this many points with the Chiefs is that Andy Reid forgets how to coach once he gets to the playoffs.  Kansas City is 6-2 at home and they are going up against a quarterback who has a rating of 69.1 on the road with five touchdowns and eleven interceptions.

The Pick:  The Under at 45 points and the Chiefs -9

The College Football National Championship:

Alabama Crimson Tide -4 versus Georgia Bulldogs; Points Total: 45

We had another successful year in college football here at Beating Vegas, and this game is being spoken of here, just because it must be.  This is in no way a “lock” but just a “lean” at the moment.  For all the talk of the Big 10 or ACC being the best division in College Football – the SEC seems to stand above all conferences again.   Offensively they both want to run it down the opposition’s throats and defensively, they are just suffocating offenses.  This time around it’s Nick Saban going up against Kirby Smart, a former Saban assistant.  Both know each other well and one can expect this one to be an old school grudge match.  The issue here in this grudge match is that, although both programs perform and are run similarly – Bama is just a little better as a run defense and a little less prone to turning over the ball.  It’s those slight differences that can prove to do Georgia’s undoing.   The world may be in love with Georgia freshman quarterback Jake Fromm but typically the non-mobile quarterbacks with average arm strength don’t fare well against Saban’s defensive schemes.  Expect Saban to stack the box and challenge Fromm, who will have to see his wideouts matched up against some of the toughest secondary players in the nation.  Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts isn’t the most prolific passer in the nation, but he knows all he has to do is NOT turn the ball over as his 15 touchdowns and 1 interception on the season prove.  Hurts is part of a three headed monster that runs the ball, along with running backs Bo Scarborough and Damien Harris.  This Bama defense holds opponents to less than three yards a carry but Georgia’s running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel average 6.2 and 7.2 yards per carry, respectively.  Much like the Jaguars / Bills game we mentioned earlier, expect this one to be a smash mouth low scoring game but in the end, the student does NOT surpass the teacher.

The Pick: Alabama -4

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

Beating Vegas: Bowl Locks, Pt.3

Independence Bowl (played in Shreveport, Louisiana) on Dec. 27th

Southern Mississippi +15 versus Florida State

At the start of the season, Florida State was looked upon as a National Title contender.  Now at season’s end, they look like an average program, whose coach has abandoned them for Texas A&M.  .  . Most thought Jimbo Fisher would be a “lifer” at Florida State and the move to the Aggies shocked just about everyone, but now the Seminoles must gather the pieces and try to wrap up this forgettable season with a bowl win.  During the season, Florida State had a knack for losing to the good teams and beating / barely beating the below average squads.  They racked up three wins in a row to finish off the season, but those blowout wins came against competition like Delaware State, Louisiana-Monroe and Florida. . . The early injury to quarterback Deondre Francois pretty much de-railed their season early, but gave experience to James Blackman.  Blackman’s play this year has been pretty inconsistent throwing 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.  He should find some spots to do damage though in this match up against Southern Miss because the Eagles give up 13 yards a catch which is the second worse in Conference USA.  But defense is not the calling card for Southern Miss, it’s their offense, led by running back Ito Smith who is averaging 5.7 yards a carry and has rushed for over 1300 yards.  Although Ito is the focal point, quarterback Kwadra Griggs has done well in keeping his mistakes to a minimum (15 touchdowns and 2 interceptions).  Florida State will be without their best defensive players, most notably safety Derwin James – as they are preparing for the NFL draft, making things a little easier for this offense to work.  Florida State is waiting for this season to end, and with a lame-duck coach, the players are already thinking about what their fates will be next season.  As for Southern Miss, a win against Florida State does wonders for this program.  No matter the current state of the Seminoles.

The Pick: Southern Miss +15

Foster Farms Bowl (played in Santa Clara, California) on Dec. 27th

Purdue +3 versus Arizona

Jobs were saved and life had been reignited into the Arizona Wildcats football program all because of one young man: Khalil Tate.  As the team’s quarterback, he ran for over 1300 yards and averages 10 yards a carry.  His running back mate J.J. Taylor has added in over 800 rushing yards of his own (6 yards per carry).    Arizona finished behind only Army and Navy in total rushing yards this season, but were number one in the country in yards per rush with 6.8.  The points total in this game has an over/under at 65.5 – Arizona has only gone under that number twice this year while Purdue did not go over that total once all year.  Purdue is 6-6 but has been playing below-average all year long.  They had a three game skid in the middle of the season, where they played Wisconsin tough but lost, and then loss to Rutgers (14-12) and Nebraska (25-24) in back to back weeks.  They finished the season off strong with a road win in Iowa and the victory over their rival, Indiana.  Purdue is very balanced on offense – nothing crazy, but very modest and respectable (4.4 yards per carry; and completing 59% of their passes).  This bodes well for the Boilermakers who are playing a very high powered, yet one dimensional offense in Arizona – but the Arizona Wildcats are just pitiful on defense (hence most of their came totals going over 65.5 points).  The Boilermakers have a good run defense that only allows 3.6 yards a rush and because Tate isn’t half the threat throwing the ball as he is running with it – Purdue can bring more help in from their secondary to slow down this rush attack.

The Pick: Purdue +3

Sun Bowl (played in El Paso, Texas) on December 29th

N.C. State -6.5 versus Arizona State

 

Nobody knows why Arizona State fired head coach Todd Graham who finished the season with a 7-5 record.  Graham is a pretty good coach that recruits well and gets the most out of the players he gets, but he was fired and replaced by ESPN personality and former football coach, Herm Edwards.  Edwards hasn’t coached a football game in nearly 20 years, but here he is, head coach of a college football team.  Arizona State, stood in the middle of the Pac-12 this year with 31 points per game, completion percentage of over 61% and averaging more than four yards a carry.  The problem for the Sun Devils was on the defense end, where they couldn’t do much to stop the pass or the run and gave up 31 points per game. . . N.C. State has been a favorite for “Beating Vegas” the last two years.  The Wolfpack are just well coached and do everything on the field above-average, pretty consistently.  Quarterback Ryan Finley has thrown for over 3200 yards this year, but more impressive than  that, he has only six interceptions in 450 pass attempts this year. Running back Nyheim Hines rushing for over 1000 yards this year and has been a very well kept secret in college football this year.  After their bye-week, the Wolfpack lost a tough back to back at Notre Dame and then a loss at home to Clemson (which they had a chance to take the win).  They then had a another tough two games ahead of them against Boston College and Wake Forest, only beating Boston College in that run.  . .  The bottom line is, N.C. State isn’t a team that takes anything for granted and they play smart and well coached football for the entire four quarters.  Most of the players on Arizona State only know Herm Edwards as the crazy old guy on ESPN who has some pretty funny sound-bites.

The Pick: N.C. State -6.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Bowl Locks, Pt. 2

Potato Bowl (played in Boise, Idaho) on Dec. 22nd

CMU vs. Wyoming (even), total 46.5

Draft “experts” have Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen in the top three of quarterback prospects that are entering this year’s NFL draft.  Draft-guru, Mel Kiper Jr. has Allen as the number one quarterback. . . it’s just amazing that a guy who’s numbers this year are as follows: 1658 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.  Excuse me as I pick my jaw up from the floor. . . Playing out of the Mountain West Conference, he knew that his marquee games would come against teams from Power 5 Conferences. . .he was embarrassed by both Oregon and Iowa.   Allen suffered an injury in Wyoming’s win over Air Force on November 11th, but is going to play in the Potato Bowl.  Allen will be going up against a Central Michigan pass defense that is one of the best in all of college football.  This defensive unit holds the opposition to a completion percentage of 54.6% and is second, nationally, in the  interceptions category  with 19 (tied with Akron and Iowa).  Another impressive stat by this secondary is that they’ve only given up 13 touchdowns through the air this year.   Take a guess at which team these stats kind-of run neck-in-neck with. . . ?  Yup, Wyoming.  Wyoming has allowed only 10 touchdowns through the air, nabbed 16 interceptions and have held the passing yards against them to a total under 2000 yards this season.  The under in this game seems to be the play, and for the win, the Central Michigan Chippewas just have better players and really no pressure in this game.

The Pick: CMU and the Under

Armed Forces Bowl (played in Fort Worth, Texas) on Dec. 23rd

Army +6 vs. San Diego State, total 46

If you like watching teams that run the ball then this is the game for you.  Just good ol’ smash mouth football.  San Diego State attempts about twenty passes a game while Army attempts five. . . 5.  Yes, five.   Good thing Army runs the ball.  They freakin’ better. . . Army leads the nation with 4270 rushing yards, at a 6.1 yard clip.  Army’s offense is a marvel of college football tradition, as they run the triple-option-flexbone attack.  This is usually a problem for opposing defenses because they don’t see this very often, but San Diego State sees this formation when they go against their conference rival Air Force.  Adding into the mix are the formidable rushing attacks of UNLV, New Mexico and Colorado State – the San Diego Aztecs see their fair share of rushing attacks. San Diego State fares well against all of them.  They are seventh in the nation in fewest rushing yards allowed and their run defense allows only 3.5 yards a rush – just like Penn State and Georgia.   San Diego State’s rushing attack is led by the phenomenal Rashaad Penny.  Penny received AP All American College Football 1st Team Honors this week and still feels he needs to prove something to the world.  A large portion of fans think Penny was snubbed in the Heisman race, and that he was overshadowed by the likes of Penn State’s Saquan Barkley and Stamford’s Bryce Love.  Penny isn’t “on the fence” about playing in this bowl game and actually feels he needs to show the world one last time just how dominant of a runner he is.  He’ll be going up against an Army defense that allows five yards a rush (after calculating Penny’s 7.4 yards a carry, Penny has a smash-average-advantage of 6.2 yards per carry).  Army has had a nice season, but this one gets ugly with the Aztecs literally running away with this one.

The Pick: San Diego State -6

Dollar General Bowl (played in Mobile, Alabama) on Dec. 23rd

Appalachian State +7 vs. Toledo, Total 61.5

Appalachian State is a confusing squad.  They have an 8-4 record, co-champions of the Sun Belt conference and have an offense that scores 33 points per game.  Yet, they somehow manage to lose against teams like Louisiana-Monroe and UMass. . . This is football in the Sun Belt conference, I guess. . . Regardless of that, App State has put together an impressive season once again.  Senor quarterback Taylor Lamb has put up some impressive stats this year and is hoping to impress scouts one last time in this Dollar General Bowl.  Lamb has 27 touchdown passes and only 6 interceptions this year and in his entire four years as starting quarterback has stood at a 61% completion percentage.  The offensive line (three of gained made All-Sun-Belt-First-Team honors in front of Lamb has done a great job for him and his stable of running backs – most notably Jalen Moore who is 88 yards away from a 1000 yard season.  Those are the kind of things that don’t bode well for a below average Toledo rush defense that allows 4.7 yards a carry.  Toledo is giving up 25 points a game this year,  and although they are holding opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 52.7% but they’ve had a tendency to give up the big plays. . . Toledo’s offense is a powerhouse though.  Quarterback Logan Woodside has thrown for over 3700 yards with 28 touchdown passes and his targets Dionte and Jon’Vea Johnson are a sweet receiving duo.   Appalachian State’s tough defense will definitely be pushed to their limits in this one.  App State is going to take their time on drives while Toledo might find themselves getting frustrated against this Mountaineer defense. . . Should be a good game, but look at this one as a chess match.

The Pick: The Under at 61.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

 

Beating Vegas: Bowl Locks, Part 1

The College Bowl Season is an exciting finale to the year for college football enthusiast.  Lets keep that part in mind: “for the enthusiast.”  Motivation becomes a factor for some teams that fell short of the playoff or had higher expectations at the start of the year.  Some teams take their opponents to lightly while other programs look at the bowl game as an opportunity to make a name for themselves.  The tricky part about Bowl Season is to not go and place a bet on every line.  You still need to be picky about how you side with – and throughout this bowl season, Beating Vegas will continue to provide you insight on how to get the edge.

(These are locks from games played between Dec. 16th to the 20th)

Camellia Bowl (played in Montgomery, Alabama) on December 16th

Arkansas State (-3.5) vs. Middle Tennessee, total 57

Arkansas State was mentioned in an early Beating Vegas article this season and it was mostly due to expectations set for quarterback Justice Hansen.  The senior took a big step forward in his final season completing 63.7% of his passes and throwing for 3600 yards and 34 touchdowns.  Hansen is a quarterback that has learned how to go through his progressions and it shows as he has three wide outs with over 600 yards receiving; and all through the depth chart you can see receptions by just about everyone.   The Arkansas State Red Wolves don’t run the ball much but when they do, it’s a modest 4.1 yards a carry.  That doesn’t bode well for Middle Tennessee State who actually stop the run decently but have struggled against the pass all year.  The Blue Raiders secondary has only put together four interceptions on the season.  The line is pretty dangerous but expect it to climb to about 5 by kickoff.  Middle Tennessee will be a better team than Arkansas State next season, but for all that matters, Arkansas State wins this by double digits.

The Pick: Arkansas State -3.5

Boca Raton Bowl (played in Boca Raton, Florida) on Dec. 19th

Akron +17 vs Florida Atlantic, total 61.5

This is a true-home-game for the Florida Atlantic Owls, but that is not the only reason they are a huge favorite in this game.  The Owls are riding a nine game winning streak and they’ve done it by riding the shoulders of running back Devin Singletary, who is a top five back in the nation, but you’ve never heard of him.  Singletary has run for 29 touchdowns and 1859 yards this season and he must be thinking “lunch-time” when he sees an Akron defense that is allowing five yards a carry.  Singletary and the Owls have a “smash average advantage” five and half yards a rush.  Akron is just a “nice story” this year.  They fought hard and got some close victories but were pretty much handled by better competition.  Florida Atlantic and head coach Lane Kiffin will be looking to bring a huge victory to the home crowd and breeze through this Akron team by maybe four touchdowns.

The Pick: Florida Atlantic -17

Las Vegas Bowl (played in. . .come on man) On Dec. 16th

Oregon -5 vs Boise State, total 63

Oregon lost coach Willie Taggart to Florida State (I still don’t get why Jimbo Fisher left the Florida State job for Texas A&M, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment) which leaves Mario Cristobal in as head coach.  Cristobal will have no issue on the sidelines, because he was the offensive coordinator under Taggart.  The players wanted Cristobal so there should be no feelings of abandonment by the team.  Cristobal’s one run as a head coach was at Florida International where he posted a 8-14 record in his final 22 games (Wikipedia).  He hasn’t been a head-coach since 2012 and now he has to be mindful of a bunch of young men who may be in Las Vegas for the first time in their lives.  The biggest question mark for Oregon comes in the form of running back Royce Freeman.  Freeman is their stud-senior back who has racked up over 1400 yards on the ground at a clip of 6 yards a carry.  Freeman practiced this week, but there is already talk of him maybe sitting out to prepare for the NFL draft.  Knowing that this is even a thought might have Freeman not trying to over-extend himself in this game. . . Starting quarterback Justin Herbert is back under center and although the pundits will say it’s a “different offense under Herbert” – they aren’t lying – but at the same time aren’t telling the whole story:  Freeman is the main cog to this offense.  Boise State on the other hand has their key players ready to roll and no coaching change on their sidelines.  Boise has a tough run defense, and in the Western Atlantic Conference, that says a lot. Boise State is holding the opposition to 3.5 yards a rush and holding offenses under a 60% completion percentage.  The Boise staff and players won’t be overcome by the Las Vegas mystique because they come here just about every other season to play UNLV.   Expect Oregon to jump out in front early, but Boise makes things happen in the second half.

The Pick: Boise State +5

I’ll see you guys next week with more LOCKS for this Bowl Season!

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Conference Championships

American Athletic Conference Championship

(at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando Florida)

Memphis +7 vs Central Florida

Both of these teams had completely different weeks prior to the American Athletic Conference Championship game.  The Memphis Tigers were on the winning side of a 70-13 blowout against the lowly Pirates of Eastern Carolina, while the UCF Knights had to sweat out a 49-42 shootout win over the Bulls of South Florida.   Statistically the Knights look pretty good against the pass (opposing completion percentage of 53% and 17 interceptions) but against a quarterback like South Florida’s Quintin Flowers, they gave up 503 yards through the air and four touchdown passes (the dynamic Flowers also ran for 100 yards and rushed for a touchdown).  Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson may not be the dual threat that Flowers is (very few  in college football are) but his season resume includes 3500 passing yards, a 62% completion percentage and 32 passing touchdowns. The one loss, blemish or glitch on this years schedule for Riley and the Tigers was their 40-13 loss at the  hands of UCF.  In that game Riley threw three interceptions.  On paper it looks like it’s all Riley’s fault, but the UCF defense just schemed perfectly against the Tigers and the Memphis wide-outs struggled to get separation.  Expect Memphis to not let this game get out of control early like they did in the first meeting – expect the Tigers to balance the offense more and rely on running back Darrell Henderson, who  is averaging 9 yards a carry this season and although he was held to less than 50 yards last time he played the Knights, one would have to consider how the running game had to be abandoned in their last meeting.   This game has the same feel as the SMU game where UCF squeaked out a 24-17 victory.  The public money will be heavy on a UCF team with Scott Frost trying to lead a team to an undefeated season. Some books have the early line at 7.5 already.  Expect this line to keep swinging in the favor of UCF, wait it out and take Memphis with the points (wouldn’t hurt to by a half either. . .).

The Pick: Memphis +7

 

ACC Conference Championship

(at Bank Of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina)

Miami +8.5 vs Clemson

Okay, here’s the skinny on Miami: If you take away their blow-out win against Notre Dame, their schedule shows a bunch of close wins against average to below average teams in the ACC.   Look at Clemson’s schedule and you see a loss to a Syracuse team that caught them off-guard and then a bunch of double digit victories (the only teams they beat by a single digit was against a good N.C. State team (7) and a very good Auburn team (8)).  I put that out there because looking at the numbers, one would say ‘the stats have this as a dead even match-up’ but there is a reason why Vegas has Clemson as almost a 10 point favorite.  Truth is, in that game against Pitt, the real Mark Richt showed up on the sidelines for Miami.  He got nervous when things weren’t going well and benched his quarterback Malik Rosier – the guy who got them where they were. Chris Hummer of 247Sports said it best: “Rosier wasn’t playing well up that point. Far from it, completing 12-of-30 passes for just 129 yards. But to insert a player who’d thrown five passes all season into a critical junction of a 17-7 game is baffling. No matter how poorly Rosier was playing, you have to ride with the guy who’s led the Hurricanes through countless rocky stretches this season. In fact, Rosier’s navigated Miami through six one-possession fourth quarter games this year.” This is “Not-So-Big-Game-Richt” folks – we’ve seen this before. For all the hype Miami’s “turnover chain” gets, the Clemson Tigers – statistically have a better defense.  Better coach.  And still, the better players.  The line is 8.5 for the Joe Schmoes who will take “the U”  in hopes of bringing back those glory days.  Not gonna happen.  Clemson wins – and by double digits.

The Pick: Clemson -8.5

MAC Conference Championship

(at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan)

Akron +21 vs Toledo

The MAC Conference is one of the favorites of the sports-gambler.  Why?  Because late in the season this is the conference that tries to give games everyday in the week.  Here we have a seven-win Akron team going up against a Toledo team that is 10-2.  Toledo’s two losses came in blowout fashion 52-30 at Miami and 38-10 at Ohio.   This is one of the more balanced and efficient offenses in college football. . . in conferences that are not part of the “Big 5.”  Logan Woodside is finishing up his senior year with some attention grabbing numbers: 65% completion percentage, 24 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and averaging 10 yards per pass. As if those numbers weren’t enough – Woodside is helped out by a ground attack averaging 5.2 yards a carry.  This doesn’t bode well for an Akron rush defense that allows 4.9 yards a carry – giving Toledo a smash-average-advantage of 5.05 – virtually meaning this run attack will not be bothered one bit. Akron leads the MAC conference in the interceptions category with seventeen, but that could be due to teams taking there chances against a defense that lets opponents complete 61% of their passes.  Toledo’s defense is pretty average – and average in the MAC conference is usually good enough to secure some W’s.  The one real weakness for Toledo is their rush defense, but there isn’t much to worry about considering Akron averages 3.3 yards a carry – worse in the MAC.

The Pick: Toledo -21

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Ironclad Locks

Alabama -4.5 at Auburn

This scene is all-too-familiar.  It was just a couple of weeks ago that Auburn was a slight home underdog to the number one team in the nation, Georgia and came up not only covering, but winning. . . and winning BIG.  Once again the table is set up in a very similar fashion.  These two teams have offenses and defenses that are in the SEC’s top three and this will be the eighty-first meeting between these two teams, in a rivalry known as the “Iron Bowl.”  Whoever wins this game will get to play Georgia for the SEC title, which in turn helps to solidify a spot in the College Football Playoff.     Even looking at it by position: Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver – they are pretty much even throughout.  Auburn has a history of being the home dog that ruins things for Alabama.  This year, there is added incentive as they not only can play the role of “spoiler” but also help themselves in getting closer to the title of “Champion.”

The Pick: Auburn +4.5

Florida Atlantic -21 at NC Charlotte

Well, well, well. . . we finally get to talk about a game that includes the name: Lane Kiffin.  Kiffin took the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic, in hopes to jump-start his career as the head guy.  Kiffin and the Owls had a rough go of things starting out the season 1-3 but now the Owls are winners of seven straight games and this is much do to them becoming the tenth-best rushing attack in college football.  Running back, Devin Singletary (possibly the best running back you never hear spoken of) has racked up 24 touchdowns, averages 6.6 yards a carry and is looking to add to his 1524 rushing yards.  Considering how the Charlotte 49ers are allowing nearly 200 yards a game on the ground at a 4.5 yard clip – it’s lunchtime for Singletary and this Owl offensive line.   Last week against this defense Southern Miss running back Ito Smith racked up 3 touchdowns and 153 yards.  Charlotte can run the ball pretty well, but have red-zone issues like very few do in college football.  Speaking of the red-zone, Kiffin’s Owls have a 95% success rate of scoring when they get in the twenty yard line while the 49ers ALLOW opponents to score 92.11% of the time.  Something else that may interest those looking to wager on the side of Florida Atlantic: Lane Kiffin isn’t shy when it comes to pouring it on, embarrassing opponents and proving a point.  You want that kind of coach when covering a three-touchdown-defecit.

The Pick: Florida Atlantic -21

Texas Tech +8.5 at Texas

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury is the cool-kid-in-school.  Even at a school where he is nearly twenty years older than most of the students – Kingsbury is still the king of cool.  Unfortunately for him, his good looks and charisma may be cooling off with the Texas Tech faithful.  The Red Raiders are currently 5-6  with all of their wins coming against below-average competition (sorry, Houston but it’s been a down-year for you guys and you know it).   When your defense allows a 65% completion percentage and 4.3 yards a carry, that just means the offense needs to carry all the weight.  For all that matters, the offense does try and it shows – the Red Raiders have the the 8th most passing yards in college football, along with fifth highest pass completion percentage at 68.9%.  Those numbers will be put to the test by a Texas Longhorns defense holding opponents to a 59% completion percentage and 3 yards per rush attempt.   Texas has shown improvement from the previous two seasons and have competed in games that last year would’ve been completely lob-sided.   Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger will get the start for the Longhorns and although he isn’t the most polished passer, he is a dual threat QB who should give the Red Raiders defense fits.  Texas Tech will struggle to get their offense off the ground in this one.  And for four quarters of football, this defense will get worn down and give up the big plays to the Longhorns.

The Pick: Texas -8.5

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio