Category Archives: NCAA

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


Beating Vegas: A Penny For Your Thoughts

Nevada +15 at San Diego State

If there’s one thing San Diego State has proved it’s that they’ll beat up on the bad teams.  If you’re a little above average though,  they can’t figure you out. The Aztecs are playing at home after coming off of two huge roads wins and a bye week.  It’s no secret how the Aztecs play their brand of football: Hand the ball off to Rashaad Penny and don’t get in his way.  Penny is the second leading rusher in all of college football with 1602 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.   He’ll be looking to inflate his seven-yards a carry number as he goes against a Nevada Wolfpack that’s allowing 4.5 yards a carry.  That would give Penny a smash-average-advantage of 5.75 a carry, which is a ridiculous number.   The Aztecs’ pass attack is more about keeping the opposing defenses honest and managing the game, but it may have more opportunities against this Nevada pass defense which is one of the absolute worse in football (giving up a completion percentage of 68.1% and 279 passing yards a game).  The times that Nevada has put up points or a fight is against bad defenses, this won’t be one of those times as they face the Aztecs this weekend.

The Pick: San Diego State -15


UCF -14 at Temple

The University of Central Florida is the number one offense in college football, averaging 48.6 points per game.  They are currently 9-0 but are feeling a bit of “conference bias” when they look at their current ranking in the college football playoff picture.   UCF is getting little to no love with a ranking of 18 and the chances of them making the actual playoff are slim to none – even if they go undefeated.  This positions UCF to only get themselves into a major bowl game and maybe square up against a highly thought of SEC, BIG 10 or Pac12 opponent. . . This week, the Knights don’t do too much to help out their cause as they travel to Temple to take on the Owls.  The Owls are generally considered to be a pretty decent team that is not part of the power-five conferences but this is a down year for them and now at 5-5 they are struggling to find themselves bowl-eligible with only two games remaining on their schedule.  Quarterback Frank Nutile has been the reason behind this mid-to-late season run given to the Temple Owls though.  Looking at the numbers though, he’s had success against Army, Navy and Cincinnati  – all three teams which let up at least a 60% completion percentage to their opposition.  UCF is only allowing a 54% completion percentage and has 12 interceptions on the season so far. Add to the fact that Temple’s 3.5 yards a rush puts them in the bottom quarter of the entire NCAA – you have a one-dimensional offense playing a power house team in the Knights.  Fourteen points is way too modest here.

The Pick: UCF -14



Iowa State -9.5 at Baylor

This line is giving Baylor way too much credit for playing at home. . .Listen, I used to be a Baylor against the line guy.  Every week.  Especially for first half action.  But since the unceremonious departure of coach Art Briles, this program has been on a downward spiral.  No longer are they a top ten offense in the nation fighting for the big 12 crown. . . now they are 1-9 with their only win coming against Kansas. . .the only team worse than Baylor in the Big 12 conference.  This week, they play host to an Iowa State team that is the biggest roller coaster ride in college football this year.  This is a team that has split wins against the best teams in the conference and the games have all been decided by single digits. Iowa State’s defense is good – according to Big 12 standards – but that’s mostly due to a rush defense holding opponents to 3.7 yards a carry.  Baylor’s 25.7 points per game are decent, but considering they don’t pass the ball well or run the ball well, it’s mostly due to playing in the Big 12 that that number is what it is.   In the Big 12, literally anything can happen on the scoreboard, but Baylor is more inept to consistently score points against a team that at least tries to play defense – so ride with the Cyclones as the traveling favorite.

The Pick: Iowa State -9.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Indiana +1; Air Force +29.5; San Diego State -3; Ball State +32.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio


Beating Vegas: Familiar Faces

NC State -3 at Boston College

N.C. State has become the most talked about team here at Beating Vegas.  This is the FOURTH time they’ve been mentioned by me this year.  It’d be great to say we’ve hit each time with N.C. State but the truth is, they are 1-2 when they’ve been picked to cover the spread by Beating Vegas.  With that said:  Here we go again.  N.C. State was riding a six-game win streak until fate hit them with really tough back-to-back competition, losing to Notre Dame by twenty-one points and losing to Clemson by six points.  It doesn’t get much easier as their next two games are on the road against two pretty good defenses. The Boston College defense is allowing 25 points per game and are tied in the ACC with 13 interceptions.  Teams complete only 51% of their passes against them.  If there is a weakness it’s the rush attack which allows five-yards per rush.  It’s not good, but not terrible considering the attacks they have to face in the ACC. The Eagles ground attack is there only attack and will be one dimensional throughout this game.  N.C. State is averaging 32 points per game (8 more than B.C.) and has done it with a consistent balance that doesn’t turn over the ball often.  This spread is too low and that is because Vegas is banking on the public falling in love with an Eagles team that clobbered a Florida State team that is “all name and no game.”  N.C. State is a well coached team who does not over-look their opponents.

The Pick: N.C. State -3


Georgia -2.5 at Auburn

This is a game I had circled after week four of the college football season.  Auburn has been a favorite of mine to surprise folks this year.  Before we get into the numbers and the pick, a little Google-search shows that Georgia leads this series 57-55-8 in what is called “Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry” (okay I knew the last part but still. . .).  This match-up has been going on since 1892 and I wouldn’t say these are the biggest stakes to be had in the history of this rivalry – but, the stakes are definitely big enough.  Georgia is the current #1 team in the nation with Auburn being ranked 10th.   These teams run the ball well, defend the run well.  They both throw the ball “efficiently enough” to give their teams a good balance and they both hold opponents to a 55% completion percentage.  Publicly the early money-lean is going by way of the Georgia Bulldogs at 71% and this isn’t a surprise.  What to look at here is the balance these two teams have against each other AND the fact that Auburn is playing at home for the first time in THREE weeks.  Meanwhile, Georgia has to hit the road after beating a South Carolina team that was not an “easy-out.”  This game is going to have some moments, the final moment though will be the “War-Eagle” chant with the students of Auburn filling the field.

The Pick: Auburn +2.5


Oregon State +23.5 at Arizona

Yes, we blew it with Arizona last week as they decided to play one half of football when it was too late but – this is still a good team and Khalil Tate is still one of the more exciting players in football to watch this year.   Honestly,  this game has nothing to do with Arizona and everything to do with Oregon State.   Teams have had no problems running against the Beavers as this defense has allowed 4.7 yards a carry against them (by the way, when Bowl Season comes around, keep in mind that every team in the Pac-12 gives up more than 4 yards a carry outside of Oregon and Washington).  They are pretty good against the pass but let’s not be silly, Arizona is going to run the ball, run it again and run some mo’. Arizona’s rush attack has proven to be just as dangerous as Notre Dame’s, averaging seven yards a carry and closing in on 3000 total rushing yards for the season. Outside of UTEP and Northern Arizona though, the Wildcats haven’t blown out anybody by a margin this big.  This is one where you might want to take the Arizona Wildcats for some first half action, but watch out for Oregon State get some back door scores during mop-up-duty.

The Pick: Oregon State +23.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio


Beating Vegas: Going Wild in Southern Cal

Arizona +7 at USC

The Arizona Wildcats go into the home of the USC Trojans this weekend and this is a battle between two quarterbacks who have been on a very different road in getting to this point of the season.  The Trojans’ quarterback Sam Darnold was the pre-season Heisman favorite, with a lot of NFL scouts touting him as the best signal caller in the nation, who was supposed to lead the Trojans to the playoff this year.  The Trojans are currently 7-2 with a middle of the pack defense and an offense, that although is putting up  33 points per game – was expected to do even better.  Darnold is having an okay season throwing 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions (second most in the Pac-12).  The real answer to this offense’s success has been running back Ronald Jones who is 112 yards away from a thousand yard rushing season and is averaging 6.7 yards a carry.  Jones is the fifth best -statistical – rusher in the Pac-12 conference – one spot above him though is Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate.   Tate in just six games has accumulated 960 rushing yards and averaging nearly 14 yards a rush.  Coach Rich Rodriguez’ offense doesn’t look to throw the ball much but if they do Tate is netting a completion percentage of 68.7%.  The other ball carriers on this team average at least 5 yards a carry (all four of them).   The Wildcasts defense stepped up when they went against another highly touted Pac-12 quarterback in UCLA’s Josh Rosen and forced the quarterback to toss 3 interceptions.  Arizona is playing very well as a unit as Tate is proving to be right there with Bryce Love as the best players in the Pac-12 conference.  USC is playing with hurt pride and defending their undefeated home record this week.  Arizona’s wins have either come in blowouts or by thin margins while USC has proven to be mostly unreliable so far this year.

The Pick: Arizona +7

Rice +10.5 at UAB

It was only a few years ago that the University of Alabama-Birmingham ended their football program.  They figured it was costing them too much money to be competitive and decided to pull the plug.  2017 became the “the year the Blazers come back.”  Many figured it would remain to be a bottom dweller.  History proved it was never a good program anyway so after being dead for two years, they would definitely be a door-mat to anyone who stepped to them.  Funny how things turn out, huh?  Currently UAB is 5-3 and knocking on the door of becoming “bowl-eligible.”  The Blazers offense is predicated off of the success of their ground game and running back Spencer Brown who is averaging 5.6 yards a carry and has a total of 909 rushing yards so far this season.  Quarterback AJ  Erdely has been efficient as well, throwing nine touchdowns and only 2 interceptions but more impressive than that are his 10 rushing touchdowns this season.  This isn’t a surprising stat when you realize that UAB’s scoring percentage in the red zone is 87%, which ranks them higher than Penn State and Louisville’s red-zone attacks.  This will be key when going against a Rice red-zone defense that is allowing opponents to score 89% of the time. (And just to see the other side of things: UAB’s red zone defense 70% sandwiched between the likes of Ohio State and Alabama while Rice’s red-zone attack scores 71% of the time which knocks down the Owl’s chances of scoring to a 49% in the red-zone.) The Rice Owls have been on the wrong side of lob-sided scores all season and stand at 1-7 so far this year. The offense is ranked 229th in total yards, 251st in passing yards and 116th in rushing yards.

The Pick: UAB -10.5


Virginia Tech -2.5 at Miami

Here goes one that the “sharps” are big on.  Getting Va Tech under a field goal, while you can.  There are many reasons why.  First one, as we saw last week, Miami will just let any team hang with them.  Even teams they should blow out by a large amount like UNC or Duke.  Yes, we all saw that ridiculous touchdown that put the Seminoles away, but in truth – Florida State is in a down year, with injuries and inexperience stripping them of reinventing their dominant looking selves.  Miami is a good team.   A marginally good team.  They’ve been “bleh” against the spread and they are usually given too many points because they are such a large “public” favorite.  Virginia Tech has a quarterback in Josh Jackson who goes under the radar and it’s a crime.  Jackson is completing 62% of his passes with 17 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. Behind his is a running back committee of Travon McMillian, DeShawn McClease and even Coleman Fox — they all are racking up over 4.5 yards per rush between them.  Miami is mediocre when it comes to stopping the rush (allowing 4.1 yards a carry) but are stingy when it comes to letting ball carriers get into the end-zone, allowing only 3 rushing touchdowns so far this year.  Miami pass defense has looked great this year, holding opposing quarterbacks to 50% completion percentage but look at the competition and you’ll see why.  The number is perfect where it’s at right now and if it goes up to 3, you shouldn’t hesitate to buy the half a point.  This will be a close one but in the end, Virginia Tech has the better pass defense, the better rush defense and the better quarterback.  Don’t fall for the hype.

The Pick: Virginia Tech -2.5

Four Team Teaser of the Week: Wisconsin -1.5; South Carolina +35.5; Purdue -2 and Baylor +4.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: North Kakalaka: Part 2

N.C. State +7.5 at Notre Dame

After N.C. State lost its opener this season to South Carolina, they have reeled off six wins in a row, including a win over reigning Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson and a win over the Seminoles at Florida State.  This is a team who returned all their senior starter in the front seven of their defense and returned 8 starters in key spots on their offense.  This is a senior laden team with a lot to play for.  Here at Beating Vegas we spoke about running back NyHeim Hines before and his 5.6 yards yards a carry is worth mentioning again.  Quarterback Ryan Finley is completing passes at a rate of 70% and has yet to thrown an interception this season.  The Wolfpack have the best rush defense in the ACC, holding to opponents to 3 yards a carry and only 91 yards a game.  .  . Enter the Notre Dame rushing attack. The Fighting Irish are 8th in the nation averaging 318 yards a game.  This is mainly due to running back Josh Adams who is still rocking out over 9 yards a carry, and dual threat quarterback Brandon Wimbush 6.2 yards a carry.  Throwing the ball, Wimbush is completing barely fifty percent of his passes, although he seems to make the big throws when needed. When calculating our “clash average” the fighting Irish will be hovering around 4.3 yards a carry – which is good, but will become a point of frustration for them, and if forced into third and longs, the advantage will go to the N.C. State defense.  Notre Dame has a great rush defense too but they’ve been able to inflate their numbers more, especially in the last three weeks.  We picked Notre Dame last week against a very over-rated USC team and won easily.  This week, we don’t think the Irish will lose. . .but N.C. State will keep it close. . .or just win straight up.

The Pick: N.C. State +7.5

Mississippi State PK at Texas A&M

Remember a few weeks ago, how the pundits on ESPN said that Mississippi State could possibly pose a threat to win the SEC? . . . that was adorable. After the Bulldogs slaughtered LSU 37-7, the world thought they were legit.  Until they found out that LSU wasn’t very legit and oh yeah, the Bulldogs got pummeled by above average competition in Georgia and Auburn by a combined score of 80-13.  Mississippi State rebounded with back to back wins against BYU and Kentucky.  Mississippi State’s offense is averaging 33.7 points per game and most of that is due to a ground attack averaging 5.1 yards a rush.  Texas A&M and head coach Kevin Sumlin are kind of where they are every year: an average team with a head coach that’s on the perennial “hot-seat.”  A&M is 5-2 on the season so far and one of those losses were an 8 point loss to Alabama.  Now, if you lose to Alabama by 8 points, that’s like moral-victory-heaven.  This Aggies offense has four backs that have at least 70 carries this year, all averaging over four yards a carry.  The advantage here, aside from coming off a bye-week and being at home; is that the Aggie’s defense against the run is allowing only 3.9 yards a carry.  A&M has the athletes on their defense that will give Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald some fits as well.  The Bulldogs are a lot of hype against inferior competition, while A&M is usually a punching bag for the media.  A&M at home, off a bye and being the better team – makes this one easy.  Expect the line to go up to at least 2 points with A&M being the favorite.

The Pick: Texas A&M Pick


Miami -20.5 at UNC

There is a heavy lean on “The U” this week and for good reason.  This UNC team is a dumpster fire.  The UNC Tarheels rank second to last in total offense and dead last in total defense in the AAC.  They have lost in blowout fashion to Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech in their last four weeks and this number of “20.5” was cleared all three times.  Miami has proven to be a very “blue-collar” 6-0.  Not blowing out their opponents, but edging out good competition and looking strong when they finish.  Miami is 3-3 ATS so far this year while UNC is 1-7.  Publicly the Hurricanes are the third most bet on team so far with this spread.  Vegas has about 85% of their plays going that way. At the start of the year UNC put up 35 and 30 against Cal and Louisville respectively but in the last five weeks they haven’t scored over seventeen points in a game.  Meanwhile, against good competition, the Canes have averaged victories by a four point margin (yes we’re counting Syracuse as “good”).  Against inferior competition like Duke and Toledo, they’ve looked like world beaters though.  Usually, I would go against the public in a game like this, but considering the competition that the U has seen in the last three weeks, this should seem like a walk-through-practice.  Expect a close cover here in the world of 41-17.

The Pick: Miami -20.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Georgia Tech +26.5; Virginia Tech -3.5; Texas +4.5 and Georgia -2.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio