Tag Archives: Clemson

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

Alabama and Clemson, Part Two

The Alabama Crimson Tide enter this championship game as a seven-point favorite over the Clemson Tigers.  It’s a rematch of last year’s National Championship game, which saw the Crimson Tide beat the Tigers 45-40.  Tigers’ quarterback Deshaun Watson had an amazing game against the Crimson Tide’s defense throwing for 405 yards and 4 touchdown passes.  His ability to weave and dodge pass rushers while keeping his eyes down the field became a hindrance to the Bama defense and Saban even admitted later that Watson gave them all they could handle.

Nick Saban’s focus will be on how to NOT get played by Watson for the second year in a row.

Speaking of Nick Saban, he pulled a pretty petty and surprising move before the championship game by “letting go” of his offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.  Kiffin had accepted the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic and Saban believed that it was best for Kiffin and Alabama to split.  Kiffin has been nothing short of amazing as Bama’s offensive coordinator and for the first time in a long time, maybe it’s time for the general public to question the ego, and pettiness within that ego of Nick Saban.   Keep in mind, Alabama has had a true freshman quarterback in Jalen Hurts, who although has been commended for his extreme maturity to go along with his talent – has been comfortable in Kiffin’s offensive scheme.  Saban should be smart-enough to tell new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkasian “stick to the script,” in order to keep the familiarity within this offense.

Clemson’s defense has been good  this year allowing only 18.4 points per game.  They have held opponents to a 52% completion percentage and have nabbed 20 interceptions throughout the season. Their rushing defense has been equally as impressive allowing only 3.5 yards a carry.  That number will be challenged by an Alabama offense that charges ahead at 5.7 yards a carry which gives Bama the advantage in what I call a “clash average” of 4.6 yards a carry.

Alabama has had the best defense all year in college football allowing under 12 points a game and holding the opposition to two-yards a carry.  Clemson’s offense averages 40 yards a game (as does Alabama) but it’s the battle up-front where Clemson hasn’t seen power like this all year.

As the story was last year, Clemson will rely on Watson to keep the Tigers marching up and down the field for four quarters of football.  Saban-coached-defenses have issues with mobile quarterbacks as Watson proved last year, and as Cam Newton and Johnny Manziel proved in years prior.  This Crimson Tide defensive unit has NFL talent all around(about five or these kids are projected to go in the first two rounds of the NFL draft) and they also have proved to keep their emotions in check, never getting too high and never getting down on themselves.

Although this Bama defensive unit is stout, Clemson has on offense two players who are slated as the best in their respective positions come the NFL draft.  Aside from Deshaun Watson being the number one quarterback prospect by some “experts” — Mike Williams, is without a doubt the number one receiving talent in college today.   Williams brings to this championship game his 84 receptions, 10 touchdowns and 1171 yards on the season.

For Nick Saban, this is one of his best teams he’s coached at Alabama (that is saying A LOT).  On the other side of the ball is a coach in Dabo Swinney who has built up the Clemson program as one of the strongest in the nation.  Dabo has built a culture there and has been recruiting out of his mind, producing NFL talent on both sides of the ball.  The one thing that eludes him is a National Championship.  This time around, he gets a rematch against arguably the greatest coach of all-time in Saban.  For Saban, this is an opportunity to repeat as champion and further solidify his legendary status.

The motivation for both teams will be high, as it should be.

The over/under for this game is 51.  Take the over.  The 7 point spread favors the underdog, but Bama is just too strong and can wear out any team in college football, even one as talented as Clemson.


G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Bowl Season, Part Three

Here it is folks, the last installment of Beating Vegas, until next season.  We had one tremendous year here at Beating Vegas, and we hope you were entertained along the way as you were pocketing money from our College Football locks, week after week.  Here goes the rest of the College Bowl game picks against the spread. . .

Liberty Bowl: TCU vs Georgia

This game is set as a “pick” and for good reason.  Both of these squads show little to no separation in the their points scored to points allowed ratios and both have a tendency to not show up what-so-ever at times.  Both were projected to make strides and both disappointed thoroughly.

The Pick: The Under at 48.5

Sun Bowl: UNC +3 vs Stanford

Stanford’s star running back Christian McCaffrey is sitting this one out to prepare for the upcoming NFL draft, while UNC’s star QB Mitch Trubisky is playing this game to prove he can be a first round talent in the upcoming draft.  And while Trubisky would have to look ridiculously bad to not get drafted at-least in the second round (due to a generally weak QB class. . .) it’s wide-out Ryan Switzer who Stanford should be concerned with.  Switzer has notched over 1,000 receiving yards and is nine catches shy of 100 for the year.  Stanford’s pass defense has looked okay this year, but against the two best passing offenses they faced all year (Washington and Washington State), the Cardinal lost both in blow out fashion.   Stanford’s best weapon is gone, it’s been a season to forget and they are going up against a strong aerial attack in UNC, with players looking to prove they deserve high draft consideration in a few months.   Take the points and the motivation.

The Pick: UNC +3

Arizona Bowl: South Alabama +13 vs Air Force

Air Force is a favorite here at “Beating Vegas.”  Their running game is amazing and that’s all they usually need to keep teams in check or be great as double digit underdogs.  This year they go up against South Alabama, who brings a rush defense that allows 4.9 yards a carry, and a pass defense that allows only 15 completions a game.  Going against an Air Force team that rushes at 5 yards a carry and completes only 5 passes a game, this South Alabama team will be able to sell out and blitz most of the day and keep the wide outs of Air Force in single coverage.  It will be an uneventful game for the most part, but South Alabama will be playing hard and will keep it close.

The Pick: South Alabama +13

Orange Bowl: Florida State +6.5 vs Michigan

In what is usually hostile territory for Florida State, playing in Miami may be a home-field advantage for the Seminoles, who’s fans will certainly find their way within the state to get tickets to the Orange Bowl.  Florida State had a disappointing season and even then, they put up 35 points a game and won 9 games in the competitive ACC.  The Seminoles have won six of their last seven games and were able to put up 45 and 31 points against tough defenses like Boston College and Florida, respectively.  Michigan’s calling card all year has been their defense, which allowed 12.5 points per game and were well above average in rush and pass defenses.  Michigan’s offense has been actually better than advertised, but it could be a product of the defense putting the offense in great position. . . Michigan doesn’t have the fire-power on offense though to get passed the athleticism of the Florida State defense, and Florida State does not have the strength up front to go four quarters against Michigan. . .

The Pick: the Under at 52.5

Citrus Bowl: LSU -3 vs Louisville

This actually might be one of the better bowl match-ups and this one is all about the key word in bowl season: “motivation.”  NGSC’s own Kyle Nash will be in Orlando, Florida on New Year’s Eve covering the event (follow him on twitter @TheSOTG).  It’s there where Mr. Nash, will see first hand, Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson take on an LSU defense that holds opponents to 3.4 yards a carry and less than 55% completion percentage.  Louisville was able to handle Boston College and Wake Forest defenses with no problem, then lost in back to back games against Houston and rival Kentucky.  Pound for pound Bobby Petrino is a better coach than Ed Ogeron, but Petrino is the type that will look passed an opponent and not care much about this bowl game, considering where his team was position earlier this year.  LSU is a handful, and even with running back Leonard Fournette sitting this one out, Derrius Guice has been their guy – rushing for 8 yards a carry, rushing for over 1200 yards and totaling 14 touchdowns.  LSU’s attack is pretty one dimensional, but they come to play every week, where Louisville has proven this season to not – even in games that matter like the one against Houston. . .

The Pick: LSU -3

Taxslayer Bowl: Kentucky +3 vs Georgia Tech

Can’t understand why anyone would be motivated to play in the Taxslayer Bowl, but Kentucky’s win over Louisville to end the season may have them on an incredible high coming into this one.  Georgia Tech runs at 5.5 yards a carry and Kentucky’s defense allows 5.1 – this would tell the story that Georgia Tech should plod along all day against the Wildcats and they should. But the same could be said the other way around as well. . . There is just nothing for Georgia Tech in this game, they’d rather be preparing for next semester’s classes than play in this bowl game.

The Pick: Kentucky +3

Outback Bowl: Iowa +3 vs Florida

The over/under in this game is set at 40.5 which should tell you the kind of chances both of these offenses have at scoring against each other.  Florida has the better athletes and the speed to tear the corners off of Iowa.  All Florida needs is two big plays to win this, and Iowa won’t get any.

The Pick: Florida -3

Cotton Bowl: Western Michigan +7.5 vs Wisconsin

The thing to look for in this game is that if Wisconsin falls behind early, they DO NOT have the offense to keep up with Western Michigan.  Western Michigan went undefeated this year and went completely snubbed by the poll-voters.  Going undefeated and beating a team that many love for their tenacity in Wisconsin will go a long way for this program.  Wisconsin showed against Penn State in the Big 10 championship game how suspect they looked against the deep pass, and Western Michigan has a quarterback in Zach Terrell who is one of the best in the nation (70.8 completion percentage, 32 touchdowns, 3 interceptions and throws for 260 yards a game).

The Pick: Western Michigan +7.5

Rose Bowl: USC -6.5 vs Penn State

Interesting match up here as Penn State stands at #5 in the rankings, literally on the outside, looking in at the College Football Playoff and USC was arguably the second best team in college football once they made a change at the quarterback position.  Last time these two played each other in the Rose Bowl was in 2009 and Penn State lost 38-24.  That score doesn’t even put into perspective how USC really controlled the game from start to finish.  USC is a stout team from front to back, and with quarterback Sam Donald, the expectations for them next season should be the College Football Playoff.  For Penn State, it’s been a fun and inspiring season of a program pulling themselves out of the darkness and back into the college football world as a legit tradition again.  There is something stirring in Penn State’s future, but for now, lets not get ahead of ourselves.

The Pick: USC -6.5

Sugar Bowl: Auburn +3 vs Oklahoma

Nothing says “Sugar Bowl” like an Auburn verse Oklahoma match-up.  No, that is not sarcasm, that is the truth.  Because it is the “Sugar Bowl” the players from these two regions know the history and tradition behind it.  Oklahoma is where most of the money will go and the over/under at 63.5 tells you that Vegas expects this one to be close and high scoring.  This is the type of game to just stay away from at all costs.  Sometimes the smartest play is no play at all and here I’m waving the white flag.

The Pick: stay away

Playoff Semi-Final: Ohio State -3 vs Clemson

Both of these teams have been highly disappointing this season.  Which is weird to say because they are both in the college football playoff.  But for Urban Meyers Buckeyes, they can say all they want about what kind of leader J.T. Barrett is at quarterback, but the truth is, his decision making has been a hindrance at times.  The same can be said for Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson and his Clemson Tigers, who would’ve had a perfect season if not for a one point loss against Pitt. Whoever wins this game is going to get destroyed by Alabama when it’s all said and done so ultimately this game doesn’t matter – but for these two coaches, Urban Meyer of Ohio State and Dabo Sweeney of Clemson – one is looking to add to his already legendary status, while another is trying to get back into a Championship position which he let slip away last year.   This game is a legit flip-of-the-coin and for that reason, go with the Tigers.

The Pick: Clemson +3

Playoff Semi-Final: Alabama -14 vs Washington

Chris Peterson of Washington has been one of the most influential and consistent coaches of the last decade.  For all of those years at Boise State being snubbed by the BCS to get a shot in the Championship Game or by a loss that derailed the Boise State Broncos’ season – he has made it, with the Washington Huskies.  He has made it, that is, with a shot at the title.  Unfortunately for him, he is playing against one of Nick Saban’s best teams in Alabama.   14 points seems like a lot for a Washington team that puts up 44.5 points per game, but this Bama team allows 11 and puts up 40 of their own on average. . . I said for the last month the only team in college football that can go head to head with Alabama is USC, and the Trojans ended up beating Washington 26-13.  The Washington offensive line will be dominated.

The Pick: Alabama -14

Bonus: Alabama at the moment is -350 to win it all, while the field is +250.   You should know where I’m “rolling” with this one. . .


Good Luck and Wager Wisely — once again thank you for coming to Beating Vegas week after week.  See you guys next season!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Seventeen

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: I have no problem being wrong about USC last week because I’m pretty sure 95% of America was with me on that one. . .

The Division 1-AA Championship Game:

Jacksonville State (+4) vs North Dakota State:


Despite two close wins against Chattanoga and a near upset of a “then ranked” Auburn team in over-time – The Jacksonville State Gamecocks have been winning with ease week to week.   They caught the attention of the college football world in that game against Auburn, in which they exposed what the Auburn Tigers really were and we were introduced to senior quarterback Eli Jenkins.  Jenkins is a true dual-threat quarterback who has thrown for over 2700 yards and rushed for over 1000.  Jenkins along with stud running back Troymaine Pope (average 8.4 yards a carry and over 1700 rushing yards) lead a Gamecocks offense that is putting up 41 points a game.  The North Dakota State Bison have been the most popular team in Division 1-AA because of their recent run of dominance and because of the seemingly annual trip ESPN’s College Gameday makes out there to show love to the Bison.  The Bison have a very blue collar way of going about their business – they make minimal mistakes on offense and play hard nosed defense.   Both of these defenses allow less than 3.5 yards a rush and both defenses keep opponents throwing at a 50% completion rate.  This is a tricky one  because one group of people will see how Jacksonville State almost beat an SEC team in Auburn, while the other half will see a North Dakota State team which has been the media darling for the better part of five years.  The line is right where it should be, but bet on the defenses in this one.

The Pick: Take the UNDER at 58

The Green Bay Packers (+1) at the Washington Redskins


It may sound crazy, but although the Kansas City Chiefs are on a ten game winning streak, the hottest team in the league just may be the Washington Redskins, who are currently riding a four game winning streak.  The Redskins won the nearly laughable (and collapse-able) NFC East and are at home to one of the league’s most storied franchises, the Green Bay Packers, who are anything but “hot” entering the post season.  The funny thing about Green Bay, is that even in a “sub-par” season, quarterback Aaron Rodgers has still thrown for 33 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions in a season, where he struggled to find help from his supporting cast.  The offensive line disappointed many and the wide receiver core showed how “regular” they can be without Jordy Nelson out there.   Running back Eddie Lacy has been “okay” as of late, but with only 743 rushing yards on the season and only three touchdowns by way of the ground – it’s easy to tell that the hefty tailback has been running to IHOP more than to the end zone this year. . . Luckily for Lacy, Rodgers should find some spots in a Washington secondary that has given up 30 touchdowns this year, so it’s very likely that the running attack will be rarely displayed from Green Bay.  The Washington Redskins quarterback, Kirk Cousins is one of the better stories of this year.  He’s taken shots from the media and has looked at times – flat out, awful – as a quarterback, but something clicked in him this year and he has stood out as one of the better passers in the second half of the season.  Cousins leads the NFL in completion percentage at 69.5% and was 10 yards short of throwing for 4000.  He’s looking better in the pocket now and has a healthy Desean Jackson to help stretch the field.   Jordan Reed is a top five tight end who the league, who is a match up nightmare for any defense.  The Packers are by no means going to get blown out, which is why Vegas has them as a slight underdog.  Vegas is also betting that people will fall for the allure of the Packers over the Redskins, who up until this year have been one of the NFL’s punchlines.

The Bet:  Washington Redskins -1

Kansas City Chiefs (-4) at the Houston Texans


This will be a defensive battle in the state of Texas, and if you’re trying to find out which team has the better defense, you’d be splitting hairs to do so.   Alex Smith is one of the most under appreciated players in the NFL, but he keeps throwing at high completion rates and he keeps NOT turning the ball over.  Oh yeah, remember when he didn’t throw a touchdown pass to a receiver all of last year?  Well that all changed once they gave him a receiver to spread the field with in Jeremy Maclin.  Maclin turned out a 1000 yard season with seven touchdowns and is still a dynamic play maker.  After stud running back, Jamal Charles went down for the season, coach Andy Reid was able to find life and stability in his backfield with Chacandrick West and Spencer Ware.   Meanwhile, the Texans haven seemingly used five different running backs this year who all pumped out average numbers, but it doesn’t matter because they will find ways to get the ball in wide out Deandre Hopkins’ hands as much as possible.  Hopkins is one of the most “un-coverable” guys in the league, who has a combination of speed, athleticism and hands that makes any quarterback comfortable tossing the ball up in the air.  Brian Hoyer will be that quarterback, and after starting, being benched and starting again – he’s got to be happy that he’s a division winning quarterback with one of the best tools in the league to play with.   This game will be a chess match for all four quarters, as both teams are coached extremely well and for the most part are evenly matched.  Take the home team with the points though, especially because nobody has been enamored with the Texans this year.

The Pick: The Texans +4

If You Must: Even if you don’t watch/like college football, how are you going to NOT watch the National Championship.  The Clemson Tigers have finally made it over the humps that have stumped them in the past and are the number one ranked team in the country and even with that, they are underdog to Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide.  Clemson has speed and spread formations that have given Saban’s teams fits before, but Saban is too smart to be beat by the same tricks again.   Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is a smart quarterback and a “gamer” who won’t be intimidated by the Crimson’s Tides blitz packages – expect Clemson to slow down the blitz with screen passes and quick slants early.  Alabama is driven by the playing style and over-all “awesomeness” of Heisman Trophy Winner, Derrick Henry but the Tide are actually a pretty well balanced offense.  On average, Alabama puts up 208 rushing yards and 214 passing yards a game.  This should an interesting match up because Clemson can defend both the pass and run very well.  Alabama makes it impossible to run against them, and if Clemson has to be one dimensional the whole game, it won’t bode well for them.  Clemson will get some scores in because they have way too much talent but in the end, Alabama -7 might be the way to go. 

Not enough to make me want to play with the lines this week to throw in a “teaser of the week” but as always, Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Twelve

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: Consider yourself lucky to  have an even split in rivalry week, this week it doesn’t get much easier.   During championship week, the games are played at “neutral” destinations, and some teams are playing for their playoff lives.

North Carolina (+4) vs Clemson (game to be played at Bank of America Stadium)

To get into the College Football Playoff, North Carolina would need a win against #1 ranked Clemson, and a ton of teams in front of them to completely fall apart.  First things first though for the Tar Heels, and that’s a chance to knock off the best team in the country, Clemson.  There are two things that separate the two teams, and only two things: 1. Clemson is undefeated while UNC has one loss to South Carolina; and 2. UNC’s one real weakness comes with their run defense.  The Tar Heels give up 208 yards a game on the ground to the opposition but at least have a pass defense that is formidable and they will have to be at their best against quarterback Deshaun Watson.  Watson throws at a 70% completion percentage and has thrown for 27 touchdowns on the year.  He is not in a class all by himself though.  UNC’s Marquise Williams throws at a 65% completion rate and is just as much a dual threat as Watson.  Week to week, Clemson looks like a team that plays down to the level of their competition and the next week they seem like they’re playing on a whole other level.  This week, they are playing against a tough and aggressive Tar Heels squad that knows even a bowl game after beating Clemson, won’t be as exciting as actually beating Clemson.

The Pick: North Carolina +4


Michigan State (-3) vs  Iowa (game to be played at Lucas Oil Stadium)


The knocks against Iowa all year is that they haven’t “played anybody good” and the knock against Michigan State is that they haven’t played “up to their expectations.”  For whatever faults these teams possess, they did enough to find themselves in the Big 10 Championship Game.  It’s simple enough, whoever wins becomes Big 10 Champ and earns a birth in the college football playoff.  Michigan State has had a problem “putting teams away” and it’s quite baffling.  The only assumption one can make is that they take their opponents lightly and basically sleep walk during games.  There is NFL talent throughout the roster, most notably at quarterback with Connor Cook.   Cook is expected to be a first round pick in the upcoming draft and games like these is when he’ll need to shine the most.   He has 24 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions but his 57.6 completion percentage shows, he tends to be inconsistent at times.   Iowa’s defense has been good this year, but once again – considering the level of competition, it’s to be taken with a grain of salt.  They won by single digit margins against the two better offenses they faced in Indiana and Nebraska.  This Michigan State team knows that the talent in the Big 10 is on the rise, and with things not looking to get any easier with rivals Michigan and Ohio State in the near future, their time is now.


The Pick: Michigan State -3


Florida (+17) vs Alabama (game to be played in the Georgia Dome)


The Florida Gator defense has been the talk of the town.  They allow only  15.5 points per game and have speed in their secondary that goes almost unmatched.  The Gator offense has been more reliant on their defense then themselves as they muster 25 points a game, but haven’t gone over the 30 point mark since that early win in October against Ole Miss.  Quarterback Will Grier’s suspension has really put his team in a bad position on the offensive side of things, as Treon Harris has minimalized the chance for the Gators to display a balanced offense.  Harris’ 53% completion percentage forces the Gators to stick to the ground.  Harris’ athleticism is over-rated as well, because as the team’s second leading rusher the QB is averaging less than three yards a carry. . . Honestly, as good as the Gators are on defense, the Crimson Tide are just better. They allow one fewer point than Florida does on defense and  running against ‘Bama has been nearly impossible as teams average 2.5 yards a carry and less than 80 yards a game against them.  This is the team that held LSU’s Leornard Fournette to  31 yards and less than 2 yards a carry in their 30-16 victory over the Tigers.  And unlike Florida, ‘Bama has a very balanced offense that gets it done through the air and also by ways of the ground with their running back, Heisman hopeful, Derrick Henry.   Most will see the big number and go with the team getting the points, but in truth, Alabama is primed for a big win going into the College Football playoff.  Florida will struggle getting first downs, let alone touchdowns, while Alabama will find a way.

The Pick: Alabama -17


If you must: When looking at the Baylor vs Texas line, the +21 going to the Longhorns is too juicy to pass up.  The Baylor Bears are going into this game with their third string quarterback and that’s the least of their woes.  This is a team that was destroying everything in it’s path and looking forward to a Championship run – that is all gone.  For the Longhorns though, this is their championship game.  They may not win, but they’ll put up a tough fight to not be blown out.

BONUS pick:  This one is just too easy to lay off of.  Take the Jets at -2 against their hometown rival New York Giants.  The Jets are a team that are becoming scarier and scarier as the playoffs approach.  At full health this is one of the tougher teams on both sides of the ball, and they seem to be rolling right now.  Fitzpatrick is the only wildcard here, but he has weapons around him – too many for the Giants to handle.  Eli will be under pressure the entire game and this is a secondary that is loving the opportunity to play against Odell Beckum Jr.  This one could get ugly and could be the easiest win of the week.


Teaser of the Week: (Four Gamer) Bowling Green +1, Jets +10, Patriots +2.5, Michigan State +9

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Eleven

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: We went 50/50 last week and so far with college this year we’re doing above 60%.  Not too shabby, but the next couple of weeks pose a challenge.  This week there are a lot of rivalry games and if they are not “true” rivalries, they are schools within the same conference or recruiting battle grounds.  It’s tough to call these games (as well as Conference Championship games and Bowl Games) because this is one of the few times that emotion in a game, can favor in the balance of one team over another. . .

Kansas State (-20) at Kansas


This is the last time we can all pick on and laugh at the Kansas Jayhawks this season.  Yeah, that sounds mean.  They are just kids. . . but still, they are so awful it’s laughable.  The Jayhawks (on average) put up 15 points a game and give up 46.  There is nothing good to say about anything they do.  Kansas State has had a disappointing season and they only way to salvage any kind of pride would be by kicking their nemesis when they’re down. . . on their home field, none-the-less.  Kansas is giving up nearly 6 yards a rush and are completely, mentally done with the game of football this year (who could blame them).  Back to the Kansas State Wildcats though – aside from that blowout loss to Oklahoma, they have hung with the big dogs of the Big 12, but ultimately came up short (loss to Oklahoma State 36-34, Baylor 31-24 and TCU 52-45.)  Sure, this isn’t coach Bill Snyder’s most talented team but he coaches fundamentals well and that’s all he should need.  The first half might be a safer take if it’s at 10, but for now you know what you should be doing. . .

The Pick: Kansas State -20

Notre Dame (+3.5) at Stanford


Stanford does not only have the best record in the North Division of the Pac-12, but has the best record in the entire Pac-12 at 9-2.  Anything can happen, but a win here and a win at the Pac-12 Championship, could be enough to get the Cardinal into the College Football Playoff.  Before any of that can happen though, let’s focus on the start on a key part of that sentence being: “a win here.”  Notre Dame gets to pretty much decide their fate with a win at Stanford, so it’s a pretty interesting conundrum.  The Cardinal are averaging 36.8 points per game (second in the Pac-12) and it’s an offense led by senior quarterback Kevin Hogan and Heisman hopeful Christian McCaffrey at running back.  McCaffrey is averaging 140 yards a game and has helped Hogan in managing the game better.  Things will be a little easier for this offense as Notre Dame’s best corner KeiVarae Russell broke his leg against Boston College and is obviously, out for the remainder of the season.  It’s a credit to coach Brian Kelly, to have kept the Fighting Irish in the top four with as many injuries as they have had to endure this season and it doesn’t get easier as it seems their leading rusher C.J. Prosise will not be suiting up for this game either.  DeShone Kizer has done okay since taking over at starting quarterback but has been too inconsistent for a team with National Title hopes.  The Irish’s luck defense that allows 4.6 yards a carry will probably have to try their luck one on one with the Stanford wide outs and stack the box.

The Pick: Stanford  -3.5 (to be safe, buy the half point, even the full point)

Texas A&M (+5.5) at LSU


It’s a crazy time in college football, when their are rumors circulating that coach Les Miles and LSU might be parting ways after this season.  Les has been coaching at LSU since 2005 with a record of 110-32, and also has had that championship year in 2007.  If LSU thinks they can do better, that’s on them, but Les Miles won’t be unemployed for long, that’s for sure. . . Now, aside from that drama this becomes one of those emotional charged games for LSU.  Players love playing for coaches that think outside of the box and fight for them off the field as hard as they fight for him on it.  Superstar running back Leornard Fournette got back on track after failing to rush for 100 yards in back to back games, as he achieved it against a tough Ole Miss rush defense, albeit for a loss.  LSU doens’t pass the ball much as they feel they don’t need to with Fournette and this Tigers offensive line.  This will be bad news for a Texas A&M defense that allows 200 rushing yards a game at 4.8 yards a clip.  A&M’s pass defense goes in direct contrast to that, but it doesn’t matter against LSU – they don’t pass the ball.  When LSU quarterback Brandon Harris does throw the ball at least his touchdown to interception ratio is at a respectable 3:1.

The Pick: LSU -5.5

If You Must:  Take Clemson -17 at South Carolina.  Why?  Clemson knows they have a tough game next week against UNC, they want to end this one early and rest their guys.  This inner-state rivalry lost it’s appeal once Steve Spurrier decided retiring was better than sticking around with this group.  The Gamecocks just lost to Citadel. . . if that doesn’t deflate a team, I don’t know what will.

Teaser of the Week: Four Gamer – Notre Dame/Stanford Under 67; Alabama -1.5; Kansas State -8;  Boston College/Syracuse Under 53

Good Luck, Wager Wisely and Enjoy Your Turkey Day Folks!


G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Five

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: After two failed weeks in a row, it’s safe to say we’re jumping off of the N.C. State bandwagon.  Baylor and Ole Miss cleaned up easily against their 40 plus point spreads, proving to not be scared of those big numbers when you’re Goliath, and the opposition is David.  .  .

Eastern Michigan (+29) at Toledo


The Toledo Rockets are everyone’s “Cinderella” team this year.  The small school from the MAC Conference who finds themselves undefeated and in the Top 25.  Toledo stands at 5-0, and in all truth could be 6-0 if their season opener against Stony Brook wasn’t postponed.  Toledo’s rushing attack is first in the MAC with 197 yards per game and second in the MAC with 5.0 yards a carry.  The backfield carries are split evenly between Terry Swanson and Damion Jones-Moore who average 6.5 and 5.5 yards a rush, respectively. Toledo’s defense has also been stout this year allowing only 11.8 points per game, which is spearheaded by a rush defense allowing less than three yards a carry.  Toledo was the team that exposed an over-rated Arkansas, early in the season with a 16-12 victory and is proving to be ahead of the class in the MAC.   Eastern Michigan hasn’t had quite the fortunes of Toledo, and are holding a 1-5 record and will definitely lose this match up.  Of course, if you’re here it’s not about if you lose the game, it’s by how much.   Eastern Michigan’s run defense is prime pickings for this Toledo attack, but the Eagles have their own star-back.  Darius Jackson is averaging 5.7 yards a carry and has amassed 585 rushing yards so far this season.  His backup Shaq Vann is averaging one more yard per carry.   Eastern Michigan is actually right there with Toledo in average points and yards in a game and as an offense are actually more balanced than Toledo.

The Pick: Eastern Michigan +29

Texas Tech (-31) at Kansas


Sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahommes has been leading the nations number one pass offense and has given the Texas Tech Red Raiders the offense that coach Kliff Kingsbury has been wanting to see.  Mahomme has thrown 19 touchdown passes and over 2200 yards so far this year.  Their defense makes the offense play “catch-up” on the scoreboard week to week, but when your opposition is Kansas. . . there is not much to be worried about.  Kansas was the whipping boy in last week’s column and that trend may very well continue as they are proving to be one of the worse programs in the nation.  The Kansas Jayhawks rank at the bottom of the Big 12 in total defense and total offense and are showing no improvements on either side of the ball.  This is a team that will go win-less this year and they’ll look terribly doing so.

The Pick: Texas Tech -31

Boston College (+16.5) at Clemson


The spread seems to be just where it needs to be because the Clemson Tigers average 35 points a game while the B.C. Eagles average 20.  Boston College has the best defense in the ACC, letting opponents only average 7.2 points per game.  Is that stat smoke and mirrors?  Yes and no.  See, the Eagles opened up the season with wins against the likes of Maine and Howard at a combined score of 100-3.  They held  Florida’s offense to 14 points in a shut out loss and held Duke to 9 points in a 9-7 loss.  Even those losses are somewhat statements for the defense, but losing 3-0 to Wake Forest last week – that just confuses things.  Boston College is a team that can’t throw the ball at all  and seemingly can’t help themselves from losing.  Clemson has their eyes set week to week on getting closer to a playoff birth.  Their offense has looked prolific against lesser opponents but in wins against Louisville and Notre Dame, their defense looked “steady” at least.  Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been more of a game manager than a gunslinger, which is his best option with this offense.  There is so much speed and talent around him, Watson defers to take what the defense gives him and lets his play-makers do the work.  Clemson has a steady defense itself and put the clamps down on a good rushing attack in Georgia Tech last week.  Boston College’s rush game is more straight up the gut, then Georgia Tech’s but it’s hard to believe a team that struggled against Duke and Wake Forest defensive fronts will do much better against Clemson.  The Boston defense is good, but Clemson is a team that is ‘feeling themselves’ right now and they capitalize well off of other team’s mistakes.  The home crowd will be unbearable.

The Pick: Clemson -16.5

Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Buffalo Bills


While writing this, it is currently Tuesday, October 13th and the spread is in favor of the visiting Bengals at three and half points, but you better believe this line will jump up at least, one and half more points.  The reason being,  Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has a reported MCL sprain and will “miss some time.”  This means a worse possible scenario for the Bills who are now forced to start former first-round pick E.J. Manuel.  In 2014 Pro Football Focus graded Manuel simply as a “poor” starting quarterback.  His completion percentage hovers at around 58% and has the reaction time of a dead-man in the pocket.   This week Manuel will be going against a Cincinnati Bengals team that might be one of the best in the NFL today.  The Bengals defense gives up, on average, twenty points a game and this Buffalo Bills offense is one that is one-dimensional and currently, terrible at that one dimension – running the ball.  It is very unlikely neither Lesean McCoy or Karlos Williams will be active for this game, leaving the likes of Anthony “Boobie” Dixon who had a disgusting seven carries for nineteen yards against the Titans on Sunday. . . Sure this Bills defense is tough, but they have shown as of late that their secondary needs a lot of help from it’s front seven.  Andy Dalton has looked the best he’s ever looked, and having a huge comeback win against Seattle last week, has certainly boosted the Red Rocket’s confidence.  The Bills defense will be gassed because this offense will not sustain long drives, let alone put up points against this Bengals team.

The Pick: Bengals -3.5

If You Must: The New England Patriots seem almost unbeatable.  This “chip on their shoulder” is legit and they are looking to embarrass teams they face.  The Patriots have always had their way with the Colts and that will not change this time around.  The Colts are 3-2 and riding a three game winning streak in which they struggled to get by three of the leagues worst teams.  Patriots as a -8 favorite is a slam-dunk.

Teaser of the Week: (Four Gamer) – Bengals +8.5, Patriots: +4, Panthers/Seahawks Under 53 and Michigan +3.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio