Category Archives: NCAA

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

Beating Vegas: Marshall Matters

Marshall -3 at Middle Tennessee State

Last week we saw two huge favorites fall victim to the “Friday Night Schedule.”  Of course we’re talking about Clemson losing to Syracuse and Washington State losing to Cal.  This week Marshall rolls into the state of Tennessee a little bit banged up on defense and that may be why the spread is only at 3.  Marshall’s offensive line has been stout in pass protection, so much in fact that their quarterback, Chase Litton, has only been sacked 3 times this year.  Last week, Old Dominion’s defense was able to get to  Litton and it was the first time he’s been sacked in his last 125 pass attempts.  Wide receiver Tyre Brady made a name for himself this season when he netted 248 receiving yards in a losing effort to N.C. State. Middle Tennessee State’s rush defense is only allowing 3.5 yards a carry and after calculating the smash average (3.8) it gives a slight edge to the Blue Raiders of Tennessee.  Looking further into the defense though, they give up 63.5% of completions to the opposition which is right in the wheel-house of Litton.  There is a 6 point advantage leaning towards Marshall when it comes to points per game.  Middle Tennessee has a tendency to give up the sack and toss interceptions in the passing game and that trend will probably continue considering Marshall’s Herd hold the opposition to a completion percentage of 53%.  Marshall is 5-2 ATS in their last seven games they’ve played on a Friday night, so expect the favorites to shine this time around.

The Pick: Marshall -3

Iowa -1.5 at Northwestern

Here is a game where the line means absolutely nothing because we’re looking at the over/under number of 47.  These two teams are consistently recruiting against each other, with Pat Fitzgerald actually getting the best of Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz in recent years.  Both teams are “scrappy,” and usually play the role of a heroic underdog, but in this scenario it’s more of a dog-fight.  One can’t imagine Northwestern getting too cute with an aerial attack against this Iowa defense, and they’ll lean on running back Justin Jackson and his 4.7 yards a carry most of the way.  Iowa, surprisingly has a better passing attack than ground game this season, and quarterback Nate Stanley, has proven to be efficient, if not flashy with his 15 TD, 2 Int and 57% completion percentage, stat line would indicate.  These are two teams trying to step their game up in a Big 10 conference that has 4 heavy weight names at the moment.  It will be a sloppy, hard nosed game.  Boring though.

The Pick: The UNDER at 47

Kansas +39 at TCU

Yes, you read that right +39.   Hard to argue points against that spread though.  Kansas has been one of the worse teams in college football for the last few years.  My mentality has always been – if all else fails: bet against the Jayhawks.  And why not? The Kansas Jayhawks are ranked second-to-last nationally with a defense that allows 44.8 points a game. The passing defense?  Allows a completion percentage of 67.3% and has allowed 16 touchdown passes. The rush defense?  Allows 4.5 yards per rush and has allowed 17 touchdowns.  Yikes.  The TCU Horned Frogs are just what you’d expect from a team that is among the creme de la creme of the Big 12 – high powered offense that likes to run up the score when they can.  Quarterback Kenny Hill is completing nearly 70% of his passes and is licking his chomps waiting to feast on this Jayhawk secondary.  Last week, we rolled with a 35 point favorite in UCF when they went up against lowly Eastern Carolina (which we covered. . .easily), but this is the Big 12.  Defenses show up when they want to and fade in and out of games at the blink of an eye.  Kansas,led by running back Khalil Herbert (7.4 yards a carry) will score some “meaningless” points.  I mean, its 40 points.  Come on.

The Pick: Kansas +39

Four Game Teaser of the Week: West Va -2.5; LSU/ Mississippi Under 71; UAB +4.5; SMU +4.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

 

 

Beating Vegas: North Kakalaka and . . .

Eastern Carolina +35 at UCF

Man, oh man.  This game pits the best of the American Athletic Conference against it’s absolute worst.  Funny thing is, Eastern Carolina isn’t a terrible football school.  This is just a really, really, really bad time for them.  How bad?  Like the worst defense in college football-bad. The Pirates are giving up 47.8 points a game and allowing 600 yards a contest.  The defense is very generous though, they’ll let opposing offenses run or pass against them at will.  Very nice of them.  It doesn’t get easier for Eastern Carolina as right now, one of the hotter teams in the nation UCF are waiting to pounce on them. UCF is number one in scoring offense this year at 47.5 points per game.  The Knights are completing 70% of their passes and are averaging 5.8 yards a carry (which is ironically what Eastern Carolina allows per carry).  UCF is also looking to show off new “space themed jerseys” to honor NASA that look amazing that night.  With a lot of big programs already at one-loss, and this UCF team looking like one of it’s best ever so far.  The Knights will be looking to run up the score when they can because every little bit will count when Bowl Season comes along.

The Pick: UCF -35

N.C. State -12 at Pittsburgh

Pitt is just having a run of bad luck.  And now, after losing to Syracuse last week, you can just tell this is a team that’s gotten in it’s own head. When you’re only wins come against Youngstown State and Rice people start to look at you differently.  Then when you barely look competitive against good teams, those same people know exactly what you are.  And this season, it’s just “not that good.”  The former USC Trojan Max Browne is somehow making a 70% completion percentage on the season look less than spectacular and with no real playmakers on this offense its no wonder why they are number 169 when ranked among college offensive yards for the year.  While Pitt is having a season to forget, N.C. State is having one to remember.  The Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley has 10 touchdowns with zero interceptions so far this year and has a junior running back in Nyheim Hines who is averaging 5.3 yards a carry.   N.C. State is a very good road team and in their last 6 road games they have gone 5-1 against the spread and there is no reason to believe that that trend will come to an end.

The Pick: N.C. State -12

Colorado -11 at Oregon State

It’s been a tough go for the Oregon State Beavers this season.  Now that head coach Gary Anderson has parted ways with the university, this bad situation has gotten even worse.  Anderson ripped the university and even admitted in text messages that were leaked that he hired the wrong people, when it came to his staff. Yikes. The Beavers are 1-5,  pretty much losing in blow out fashion, and their only win is a sad 3 point victory against the doormat we call Portland State.  They are ranked 183rd in passing yards and 184th in rushing yards and defensively they are dead last in the Pac-12.  Colorado comes into this game on a three game losing streak, one of those losses comes at a blowout to Washington.  Their last two losses have been by 4 points and 3 points (to UCLA and Arizona respectively).  Colorado running back Philip Lindsay’s stat line for this season is impressive: 810 rushing yards, 5.4 yards a carry and 8 rushing touchdowns. Considering that the Beavers already allow 4.8 yards a carry and have allowed 16 rushing touchdowns already this should be, literally a walk in the park for Lindsay.  Colorado quarterback Steven Montez has lost some confidence after throwing 3 picks to Washington’s tough defense in the Buffaloe’s blow out loss.  He’s been slowly picking up the pieces and hopefully last week’s 3 touchdown performance will turn things around.  Colorado has three targets in Shay Fields, Devin Ross and and Bryce Bobo who are all threats in the passing game and looked at often.  All three wideouts have over 20 receptions and 300 yards so far this year.  Oregon State is giving up nearly 70% completion percentage to opposing QB’s and if Montez’ focus is in the right place – it should be a breeze throwing another 3 touchdowns. Colorado is a team playing to get to that 6-win mark.  It’s been a disappointing season for them and playing against a bad team who’s coach just quit on them might be the right kind of recipe for Colorado to get back on track.

The Pick: Colorado -6

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Michigan / Indiana Under 59.5; Colorado State -12.5; Ohio State -12.5 and Georgia -18

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

Beating Vegas: Gettin’ Green With the Irish

Between the NFL and college football picks, we broke dead even last week.  Wisconsin was really the biggest let down in not covering the spread last week and seeing them pretty much sleep-walk through games is going to be something to watch for as the season progresses. This week we’re trying to pack an extra punch so let’s go!

 

Notre Dame -14 at North Carolina

Whenever Notre Dame is a double digit favorite it seems they kind of lag and never cover.  This year has been pretty different just for the fact that they are NOT playing to the level of their competition.  The Fighting Irish, are actually playing like a contender this season.  N.D. is currently 4-1 with their only loss being to Georgia by one point (and if you’ve seen Georgia lately, you know that losing to them by a single point is nothing to scoff at).  The Irish are tenth in the nation when it comes to rushing yards per game (301.4) and are third in the nation in yards per carry (7.1).  Leading the charge behind this offensive line is running back Josh Adams who is averaging a ridiculous 9 yards a carry at the moment.  Irish quarterback Brandon Winbush, isn’t trusted much to throw the ball, but his running ability is what keeps teams on notice as he is averaging 6.8 yards a carry.  This Notre Dame defense is allowing 18 points a game and is facing a Larry Fedora coached Tar Heels team that needs to act as if this is the first game of the season. The Tar Heels are 1-4 on the season and have an offense that is sputtering out brown oil from the sides of it’s engine. If that’s not bad enough their defense is allowing 33 points per game, allowing 11 touchdown passes (tied for most in the ACC) and allowing 5 yards a rush.  Last week against Georgia Tech, another team who’s offense is predicated off the rushing attack, they allowed two backs to go over 100 rushing yards and gave up a net of 403 yards on the ground.  Using the Beating Vegas “Smash Average” – Notre Dame should easily average about 5.95 yards a carry.  The Tar Heels’ last four losses are snowballing into bigger point differentials (5, 8, 10 then 26) and Fedora may have to chalk this season up as a try out for the younger guys on the depth chart.

The Pick: Notre Dame -14

New Mexico State +10.5 at Appalachian State

The last time Beating Vegas went against Appalachian State,  they beat Texas State but couldn’t cover the big number.  Now the Mountaineers have caught our eye again at Beating Vegas. . . Quarterback Taylor Lamb has continued to be efficient throwing 8 touchdowns with no interceptions so far this year but if you take away their game against poor ol’ Savannah State, the offense hasn’t really had a chance to take off.  They’ve played two “big boy” defenses in Georgia and Wake Forest, but even then when they played against Texas State (ahem, ahem) the offense could only muster up 20 points.  New Mexico State, has been airing it out all season long with senior quarterback Tyler Rogers.  Rogers looks like a totally different quarterback than he was last year – raising his completion percentage from 55% to 65% and has gone from a TD:Interception ratio of 4:3 to 3:1.  What’s been helping Rogers a lot is a healthy Larry Rose III who is averaging 5.6 yards a carry and is currently three yards short of 400 on the year.  Also, Appalachian State does not have a corner to stick with the 6’6″ wide-out Jaleel Scott, which will end up being a problem.   New Mexico State has the firepower to score, it’s all about how much they are willing to gamble.

The Pick: New Mexico State +10.5

Ole Miss +21.5 at Auburn

I remember a time, when Ole Miss was probably one of my favorite teams to watch.  From Bo Wallace, to Chad Kelly.  Robert Nkemdiche to LaQuan Treadwell – they were exciting, energetic and aggressive.  Nowadays, if you have a defense, they can’t score. . .and if you punch them in the face, they won’t stop you.  The Runnin’ Rebels are 2-2 on the season, beating up on the likes of South Alabama and Tenn-Martin to then getting the muzzle put on them by Cal and getting completely stomped and obliterated by Alabama.  Ole Miss is giving up 35 points per game and 5.3 yards a rush.  Sure they can air it out – but most of those numbers are a mirage thanks to those two early season cup-cake opponents.  Auburn is the real deal.  You can’t run on their defense, and you can’t pass against this defense.  They are 4-1 on the year losing 14-6 to a Clemson team that is still apparently as dangerous as they were last year, but in the last two weeks they have completely wiped the floor with Missouri and Mississippi State (who up to last week people were saying could be a surprise team to come out of the SEC – yeah, okay).  Ole Miss is a team the shoots themselves in the foot with penalties and will lose focus quickly.  The atmosphere and competition are too much for this Ole Miss team to overcome.

The Pick: Auburn -21.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Notre Dame -2; Marshall -3;  Kentucky +2 and Wisconsin +.5

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

 

Beating Vegas: Trust the Better Quarterback

Kurt Cobain once uttered the lyrics “all apologies.”  And those same words are the ones I repeat to all of our loyal “Beating Vegas” faithful.  Last week’s mishaps will not happen again.  Let’s get it.

USC -3.5 at Washington State

Hmmmm. . . An undefeated, ranked home dog going up against a team that the public loves, that may be a “little” bit over-rated.  Interesting.  The number ten ranked Washington State Cougars are sixth in the nation in passing yards per game, airing it out at 432.5 yards per contest.  They are 4-0 so far this year and have been an offensive juggernaut thanks to their pass attack.  Quarterback Luke Falk is throwing at a 77% completion rate and has 14 touchdown passes to one interception.  All of this sounds great until you see who they have played this year:  Montana State, Oregon State, Nevada and Boise State – who they only beat by 3 points.  They are starting their Pac-12 conference play against a team that the masses either love to hate, or hate to see underachieve: The USC Trojans. The Trojans are ranked sixth nationally and have accumulated a 4-0 record as well but against better competition, and that’s not even up for debate (Western Michigan, Stanford, Cal and Texas).  While the whole world is in love with quarterback Sam Darnold, the two running backs of Southern Cal, Ronald Jones and Stephen Carr are who defenses should be wary of.  Jones is averaging 5.5 yards a carry, with Carr averaging 6.3.  The Cougars run defense has “held” opponents to 3.5 yards a carry – but once again – look at who they’ve played. A “number stat” to pay attention to is this: Washington State is just 1-8 SU and 3-6 ATS in its last nine games as a home underdog (according to OddsShark).   The half point, is something I’d buy an entire point with, but that’s just me.

The Pick: USC -3.5

Northwestern +14.5 at Wisconsin

Wisconsin has made short work of their early season competition as expected, even destroying BYU last week 40-6.  Wisconsin is a team that many expect little to no slip ups during the season, which should get them to the Big 10 Championship game, but now, they start conference play.  The Northwestern Wildcats are 2-1 including a beat-down they received courtesy of Duke, and pulling out 14 points in the fourth to beat the lowly Nevada Wolfpack.  The Wisconsin Badgers have always been able to run the ball, and that doesn’t change this year with running back Jonathan Taylor averaging 8.3 yards a carry, but a steady leadership from quarterback Alex Hornibrook has been an unexpected surprise.  Hornibrook has completed 70% of his passes and is averaging 10 yards a pass.   Northwestern’s defense is already allowing over 400 yards a game and on the ground they are allowing 4.1 yards a carry.  When using the Beating Vegas “Clash Average” – Wisconsin has an advantage at getting 4.85 yards per carry against Northwestern, which should give Hornibrook more than enough to work with. When looking at the numbers Northwestern is a passing attack yielding very few results (102 pass attempts, 5 touchdown passes).  Wisconsin may start out slow, but by the second half the Badgers assert their authority.

The Pick: Wisconsin -14.5

Oklahoma State -9.5 at Texas Tech

This is a rivalry that goes back to 1935, and they have consistently played each other every seasons since 1996.  Who’s been fairing the best you ask?  Well, in their last 8 meetings, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have found themselves getting the better of the Texas Tech Red Raiders by an average score of 49 to 28 (the spread is 9.5 so I’m sure you can guess where I’m leaning. . .).   The over/under for this game is set at 81 total points and the average over the last eight games has been 77.75 points.  This is going to be a long game with a lot of big plays, but it’s all about who will make the defensive stops when needed.  The answer to that question is almost never Texas Tech.  Quarterback Nic Shimonek has filled in well at the quarterback spot for the Red Raiders, but he is still no Pat Mahomes.  The Cowboys on the other hand have Mason Rudolf who is not only trying to get his team into the Big 12 title game, but he is also building himself up quite the draft profile when it’s his time to go pro.  The big difference here lies in the pass defense, where the Cowboys hold  opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 58.5% while the Red Raiders allow a completion percentage of 63.6%.  That may seem like splitting hairs, but that’s the difference of extending a drive, getting the extra yard for a first and keeping your defense rested.  The Cowboys goals of winning the Big 12 and making the college football playoff are still alive and well.  After losing last week to TCU, expect this Cowboys team to cover this spread but keep you on your toes while they achieve that.

The Pick: Oklahoma State -9.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: NC State PK, Wisconsin -2.5; SMU-5 and Oregon -1.5

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: “Go Tigers! No, Not You – Them”

Last week Beating Vegas went 50/50 on College and NFL picks.  That’s just not going to cut it here, so let’s knock out these College Football picks first.  It’s usually around this time that the football programs start to show their true colors.

Auburn -19.5 at Missouri

It’s the Auburn Tigers playing the Missouri Tigers.  Auburn confuses this match-up even more by having the “War Eagle” cry and having a bald eagle summoned on and off their home field.  Why couldn’t they be the Auburn War-Eagles?  That would’ve been ridiculous. . .but anyway. Auburn is a team, I projected to go over their pre-season over/under total of eight wins. They are so far, 2-1 and I’m liking my chances still, and I’m holding onto my prediction of them making the SEC title game as well. Last week’s 24-10 win was more of a self-inflicted comedy of errors on their part, rather than Mercer keeping up with Auburn, but none-the-less it showed that the offense is still a work in progress. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham seems to look good in the pocket but hasn’t “wow’ed” anybody yet. He’s throwing at a 70% completion rate but has two touchdown, two interceptions and is averaging below 8 yards a pass. The team is predicated on it’s run game led by Kamryn Pettway but he has even started off slow, averaging less than 4 yards a carry after averaging at least 6 yards per carry last year.  He should get off to a good start against Missouri though who has allowed the most rushing touchdowns in the SEC so far this season (9). Interesting stat though recorded last year:  In the last five years, Missouri post a record of 22-8 at home.  This isn’t a “blow your mind” type of stat but it’s worth noting especially since Auburn in the last five years is 10-11 playing as visitors.   Missouri just got embarrassed by Purdue and got handled by South Carolina but the truth is, those are two programs under a lot of peoples radar at the moment and they probably DID catch Missouri off guard.  This Missouri team has the ability to spread the ball around and they will take chances.  The spread has moved up a point in this game and public currently is all over Auburn.  Take the home underdog in a Prime Time game.

The Pick: Missouri +19.5

Arkansas State +5.5 at SMU

Arkansas State is a team that isn’t scared of much.  They don’t care that they are in the Sun Belt and choose to schedule Auburn (last year) or Nebraska (this year).  They feel they have a team that can swing with the heavy weights every year.  SMU has shown that they struggle against the pass, when tested – as was displayed in their loss to TCU and their win against North Texas.  Arkansas State will look at 6000 empty seats during this SMU game and not feel intimidated by the home crowd.  This number may go up so it’s worth waiting another day or two, but even at 5.5 its too much to pass up.  SMU has a defensive front that’s inexperienced and that’ll go well for the work-in-progress offensive line Arkansas State brings to the table as their aggressive offense will be pushing the ball all day against the Mustangs.

The Pick: Arkansas State +5.5

Rutgers +11 at Nebraska

Both teams enter this contest with a 1-2 record.  But one of them is Rutgers.  Sure Rutgers put up a “decent” fight in the 30-14 loss against Washington, but lets be honest.  Washington flew cross country to play a team the entire nation has good reason to take lightly.  Afterwards they lost to Eastern Michigan and blew out Morgan State.  Morgan State sounds more like a financial firm than a college that has a football team so do what you want with that.  Nebraska has gone up against pretty impressive offensive attacks in Arkansas State (see above), Oregon and Northern Illinois – losing the last two respectively.  Some may see the Northern Illinois game as an “upset” but when Northern Illinois plays any team in a power five conference, the opposition is automatically put on “upset alert.”  This is a game where Nebraska can gain control early in front of their home town and focus on what needs to be done. The spread has gone from 13 to 11 which is bizarre considering most of the action is going Nebraska’s way.  Expect a big game from Nebraska running back Trey Bryant, who is averaging 6.1 yards a carry so far this season.

The Pick: Nebraska -11

Only if you must: The over is 71 in the TCU at Oklahoma State game.  Both defenses either lose interest or get burned out, and both offenses can get hot quick.  This is the Big 12, it’s shoot out city.  The spread itself has Oklahoma State as a -13.5 point favorite.  This is a game to watch for future reference.  If OK State blows out TCU, they might become what Baylor was a few years back – a team to ride 17-22 point first half covers throughout the year.

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Wake Up, Gator Down

Utah State +13.5 at Wake Forest

Wake Forest has been a team I’ve picked on for the last few years.  And, why not? Outside of Tim Duncan, you’ll struggle to name a talent out of Wake Forest who has been athletically dominant.  Redshirt freshman wide out Greg Dortch may change that way of thinking though. In his first two games Dortch has 10 catches for 111 yards and 3 touchdowns. For a Wake Forest team that has recently been known for having above average defense and below average offense, this is a player that helps tilt things in their favor. Wake is a team that will predominantly run the ball with their quarterback Kendall Hinton and their running backs Cade Carney and John Wolford.  This ground game will pose the biggest problem for Utah State, who’s secondary might be looking forward to the challenge of covering Dortch, but their defensive line will get pummeled by Wakes offensive front.  Even though they beat up on cup-cake Idaho State, they still gave up 100 yards on the ground to tailback Ty Flanagan, and although Wisconsin is “next-level-good” they couldn’t do much to stop the ground attack or  the passing attack led by Alex Hornibrook, who nearly everyone has questions about as QB of the Badgers.  It may seem like a lot of points but Utah State won’t be able to move the ball against a Demon Deacons squad that has a pretty impressive defense and an improved offense.

The Pick: Wake Forest -13.5

 

Appalachian State -23 at Texas State

Twenty-three  points is a big number.  Although we did pick UCLA last week and we saw them easily cover that number to rout Hawaii, so who knows. . . App State and Texas State have played a similar schedule: Both lost to a good school from a power-five conference and both won against their scheduled “cup-cake” opponents.  The only difference is, App State dismantled Savannah State 54-7 while Texas State limped passed Houston Baptist 20-11.  The stats between Baptist and Texas were pretty similar, Baptist just didn’t have what it took to finish drives.  Appalachian State knows how to finish drives and put opponents away.  Last year they won this match-up 35-10 and with not much improvement coming on the side of Texas State offensively or defensively in the last year, it’s easy to see where this one is going. . . Last season this Texas State defense was terrible against the run allowing 4.9 yards a rush and allowing 2663 yards on the ground.  Expect App State to take advantage of this and watch as the highly accurate quarterback Taylor Lamb has all day in the pocket.

The Pick: Appalachian State -23

Tennessee +4.5 at Florida

This line opened at eight points and has plummeting ever since.  Does that mean something?  Yes, one of two things.  1) Bookmakers just want even betting on the side so they are begging people to take Florida OR 2) Bookmakers realized something that the majority of the nation refuses to believe: Florida is just not that good.  It’s true.  Sorry folks, no more Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow – hell, I’m sure people are still wishing Percy Harvin will suit up for the Gators – nope, not happening.  The Gators have been able to recruit great athletes on the defensive side of the ball but have been stagnant on offense for – forever it seems. The addition of former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire proved to be in vain as he struggled to throw over 100 yards against Michigan.  Tennessee beat the Gators last season, although they DID have Dobbs at quarterback but this team is already 2-0 and showing no signs in slowing down offensively.  It would’ve been better to get them at 8, but the Vols are just the better team, familiar with this enemy territory and should pull off the victory outright.

The Pick: Tennessee +4.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Boise State -2, UConn +22, Oklahoma State -1.5 and Wake Forest -1.

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio