Tag Archives: College footall

Beating Vegas: Conference Championships

American Athletic Conference Championship

(at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando Florida)

Memphis +7 vs Central Florida

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

The Pick: Memphis +7


ACC Conference Championship

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

Miami +8.5 vs Clemson

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

The Pick: Clemson -8.5

MAC Conference Championship

(at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan)

Akron +21 vs Toledo

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

The Pick: Toledo -21

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Ten

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: If it wasn’t for a second half collapse by N.C. State to Florida State – it would’ve been a perfect week here at “Beating Vegas.”  None-the-less, we took Vegas to the woodshed last week.   We’re having a pretty good year, so let’s keep it going!

Georgia Southern (+14) at Georgia


Let’s start off by saying: “If you’re tired of Georgia and coach Mark Richt’s routine of letting down and not showing up when it matters during the season – raise your hand.”  Just as I thought, we’re unanimous in that.  There’s a reason why folks keep expecting things from Georgia every year though – they’re talented.  Richt has been able to set the table, but he can never get to the main course it seems. . . The loss of running back Nick Chubb was obviously huge, but in his absence, Sony Michel has ran for five yards a carry and has had to do it against some pretty tough defenses.   Georgia Southern is a team that is feeling pretty proud of themselves.  Carrying a 7-2 record and whipping on the hapless as they’ve been plowing through their schedule.  The competition for Georgia Southern has been abysmal, but look at their two toughest games against Appalachian State and West Virginia.  Appalachian held Georgia Southern to meaningless book-end touchdowns and won 31-13, while the Mountaineers at Georgia Southern for lunch 44-0.   Georgia Southern is the tough guy who should never leave his neighborhood and this is the time of year when Georgia beats on teams when it doesn’t really matter.

The Pick: Georgia -14

Duke (+2.5) at Virginia


Betting on either of these teams is like playing  Russian Roulette with your bank account but here we go. . . Virginia isn’t doing much on either side of the ball that is impressive: allowing 32 points per game, and scrapping just enough to put up 24 points a game on offense. Hank Kurz of the Associated Press wrote the Virgina’s head coach Mike London (who is 10-38 verse ACC opponents) is trying to rally his team to finish strong after another disappointing season.  The Duke Blue Devils  have been one of the harder teams to get a good read on, and they’ve lost three straight games.  One of those games should’ve been a win (ahem, Miami. . .) but against UNC and especially against Pitt – they look lost in themselves.  That Miami, game really did a number on them (good going ACC).  Duke’s offense should get back on track this week, they have twenty touchdowns on the heels of a ground game averaging 4.7 yards a carry.  Virginia has given up over 1700 rushing yards in 10 games this season and have allowed teams to throw at a 64% completion rate against them. Even in their losses against teams with a winning record, they’ve been able to move the ball, so the field should open up nicely for the Blue Devils come Saturday.

The Pick: Duke +2.5

LSU (+4) at Ole Miss


This one should seem pretty cut and dry.  Ole Miss is putting up forty points a game to LSU’s 33.6 and we all know how LSU gets their points – running the ball.  More specifically, running the ball with Leornard Fournette. Fournette may be the best player in college football and is a wrecking ball who’s accumulated 1485 rushing yards at 6.9 yards a clip, but his Heisman hopes may have gotten crushed in back to back losses where he could not run for over 100 yards.  Teams have had enough and are daring / inviting LSU to throw the ball by stacking as many defenders in the box as they can to stop Fournette.  It doesn’t get much easier for LSU this week either.  The Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels defense has only allowed five rushing touchdowns all year and are holding the opposition to 3.2 yards a carry.  This is a defense that is strong enough and athletic enough to cause headaches for this LSU offensive line.  Ole Miss is suspect against the pass, but not to worry when going against Brandon Harris who is netting about ten completed passes a game and very rarely ever has more than two wide outs in the huddle with him.  The only thing that would make one think twice about taking Ole Miss is that nobody likes four point spreads.  If you can take it down to three, then do so – if not – I’m sure you’ll be fine anyway.8

The Pick: Ole Miss -4

If You Must: Caution here:  Air Force getting eleven points just seems too hard to resist.  This game has a team that likes to throw it in Boise State and a team that does nothing but run in Air Force.  Boise’s red zone defense has been pretty dreadful their last few times out, and Air Force will move the ball.  The over might be ridiculous but fun to lay some wood down on as well – but in this high scoring affair, take Air Force +11.

Teaser of the Week: Four Gamer;  West Virginia -16, Michigan State +25, Navy PK and Ole Miss +8

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio