Tag Archives: arizona

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: 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