Tag Archives: NCAA

Beating Vegas: Bowl Locks, Part 1

The College Bowl Season is an exciting finale to the year for college football enthusiast.  Lets keep that part in mind: “for the enthusiast.”  Motivation becomes a factor for some teams that fell short of the playoff or had higher expectations at the start of the year.  Some teams take their opponents to lightly while other programs look at the bowl game as an opportunity to make a name for themselves.  The tricky part about Bowl Season is to not go and place a bet on every line.  You still need to be picky about how you side with – and throughout this bowl season, Beating Vegas will continue to provide you insight on how to get the edge.

(These are locks from games played between Dec. 16th to the 20th)

Camellia Bowl (played in Montgomery, Alabama) on December 16th

Arkansas State (-3.5) vs. Middle Tennessee, total 57

Arkansas State was mentioned in an early Beating Vegas article this season and it was mostly due to expectations set for quarterback Justice Hansen.  The senior took a big step forward in his final season completing 63.7% of his passes and throwing for 3600 yards and 34 touchdowns.  Hansen is a quarterback that has learned how to go through his progressions and it shows as he has three wide outs with over 600 yards receiving; and all through the depth chart you can see receptions by just about everyone.   The Arkansas State Red Wolves don’t run the ball much but when they do, it’s a modest 4.1 yards a carry.  That doesn’t bode well for Middle Tennessee State who actually stop the run decently but have struggled against the pass all year.  The Blue Raiders secondary has only put together four interceptions on the season.  The line is pretty dangerous but expect it to climb to about 5 by kickoff.  Middle Tennessee will be a better team than Arkansas State next season, but for all that matters, Arkansas State wins this by double digits.

The Pick: Arkansas State -3.5

Boca Raton Bowl (played in Boca Raton, Florida) on Dec. 19th

Akron +17 vs Florida Atlantic, total 61.5

This is a true-home-game for the Florida Atlantic Owls, but that is not the only reason they are a huge favorite in this game.  The Owls are riding a nine game winning streak and they’ve done it by riding the shoulders of running back Devin Singletary, who is a top five back in the nation, but you’ve never heard of him.  Singletary has run for 29 touchdowns and 1859 yards this season and he must be thinking “lunch-time” when he sees an Akron defense that is allowing five yards a carry.  Singletary and the Owls have a “smash average advantage” five and half yards a rush.  Akron is just a “nice story” this year.  They fought hard and got some close victories but were pretty much handled by better competition.  Florida Atlantic and head coach Lane Kiffin will be looking to bring a huge victory to the home crowd and breeze through this Akron team by maybe four touchdowns.

The Pick: Florida Atlantic -17

Las Vegas Bowl (played in. . .come on man) On Dec. 16th

Oregon -5 vs Boise State, total 63

Oregon lost coach Willie Taggart to Florida State (I still don’t get why Jimbo Fisher left the Florida State job for Texas A&M, but that’s neither here nor there at the moment) which leaves Mario Cristobal in as head coach.  Cristobal will have no issue on the sidelines, because he was the offensive coordinator under Taggart.  The players wanted Cristobal so there should be no feelings of abandonment by the team.  Cristobal’s one run as a head coach was at Florida International where he posted a 8-14 record in his final 22 games (Wikipedia).  He hasn’t been a head-coach since 2012 and now he has to be mindful of a bunch of young men who may be in Las Vegas for the first time in their lives.  The biggest question mark for Oregon comes in the form of running back Royce Freeman.  Freeman is their stud-senior back who has racked up over 1400 yards on the ground at a clip of 6 yards a carry.  Freeman practiced this week, but there is already talk of him maybe sitting out to prepare for the NFL draft.  Knowing that this is even a thought might have Freeman not trying to over-extend himself in this game. . . Starting quarterback Justin Herbert is back under center and although the pundits will say it’s a “different offense under Herbert” – they aren’t lying – but at the same time aren’t telling the whole story:  Freeman is the main cog to this offense.  Boise State on the other hand has their key players ready to roll and no coaching change on their sidelines.  Boise has a tough run defense, and in the Western Atlantic Conference, that says a lot. Boise State is holding the opposition to 3.5 yards a rush and holding offenses under a 60% completion percentage.  The Boise staff and players won’t be overcome by the Las Vegas mystique because they come here just about every other season to play UNLV.   Expect Oregon to jump out in front early, but Boise makes things happen in the second half.

The Pick: Boise State +5

I’ll see you guys next week with more LOCKS for this Bowl Season!

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: 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: 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: 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: Championship Weekend

The numbers have been checked for this year and Beating Vegas has a sixty-percent winning percentage for the college football regular season.  Those are pretty impressive numbers considering this is a free service for those who visit the NGSCSports.Com website. . .  Much like rivalry week (where we went 2-1), the weekend of conference championships can be tricky as well.  This week we gathered up the information to give you an edge in the conference championship games.  Oh, what is that Big 12, you still don’t have a conference championship game?  Yeah, we know. . . losers.

Florida +24 vs Alabama (at the Georgia Dome)

alabamavlsux1vaj7zj31zl

You gotta know where I’m going here, right?  Although we are all sure that if Bama somehow lost to the Gators in the SEC Championship game they’d still be in the College Football Playoff – we know this is a rivalry and Saban wants to enforce his will.  Statistically, one could make the argument that Florida’s defense is better than Alabama’s – but look at Florida’s losses this year:  Florida State and Arkansas forced some serious rush attacks against Florida who lost those games 31-13 and 31-10 respectively; and their loss against Tennessee saw them give up 35 points in the second half.  .  .Sure they won a 16-10 thriller against LSU, but the difference between LSU and those other teams is that there is absolutely zero threat of a pass play coming out of that offensive system. . . Auburn was able to cover the spread last week against Bama because they have the one thing Bama struggles to have an answer for : a mobile quarterback – that won’t be an issue this week.  In the SEC, Florida’s offense is fourth from last; they struggle to pass and although some think they run the ball exceptionally well, they are pretty much just “good” at it.  There is no need to get into specifics with Bama’s stats because they execute everything on both sides of the ball above average.   Bama is 8-3 against the spread this year and didn’t cover the number last week against Auburn when the line moved up to 20.5 so expect a cover here as the Crimson Tide continue their dominant 2016.

The Pick: Alabama -24

San Diego State -6  at Wyoming

tannergentrywyomingvunlvnzeconutfpgl

Nobody is more surprised than Wyoming that they are in the WAC championship game, but the truth is their offense has been a force to be reckoned with all season long.  Their running back Brian Hill has totaled 1674 yards this season at a clip of 5.5 yards a carry.  Wyoming’s quarterback Josh Allen has found a favorite target in senior wide-out Tanner Gentry who has 11 touchdowns this year coupled with 1132 receiving yards.  With an offense that puts up 38 points a game, wins should be coming easy, but that’s not the case when your defense gives up 35.5 points per contest. . . San Diego State’s strength on offense is their rushing attack that racks up 6.1 yards a carry; it also happens to be their strength on defense which only allows 3.3 yards a carry.  Wyoming held another good rushing team, UNLV in check earlier this season.  Last time these two teams played, San Diego State gave up two 30 yard touchdown plays against Wyoming – this isn’t something that happens to a defense which usually only yields 200 passing yards against them a game.  Expect San Diego State to control this game at the line of scrimmage (especially after calculating what we, at Beating Vegas call the “clash average” which was overwhelming pointing the favor of the Aztecs at 7 yards per carry- Wyoming is just happy to be here.

The Pick: San Diego State -6

 

Penn State +3 vs Wisconsin (at Lucas Oil Field in Indiana)

saquonbarkleypennstatevrutgers33on1fdysjyl

There is an old rule that most intelligent gamblers go by: never bet on or against your favorite team.  I’ll be transparent here and let you all know : I am a Penn State fan and have been, for the better part of 20 years now, and as a fan – it’s great to see where this program is at (and heading) after the disgrace that became this university. . . With that being said, this year’s Big Ten title game is a “classic” black and blue styled game.  Both teams are playing this game for the sake of Big 10 champion and not much else afterwards as it seems the college playoff committee has decided that Ohio State is in the playoff regardless, and these two are on the outside looking in.  Both teams run the ball well, both teams stop the run well – but for Wisconsin who allow an amazing 3.3 yards a rush – they are going up against the Big 10 Conference offensive player of the year in Penn State’s running back Saquon Barkley.  Barkley has run for over 1200 yards and has come up with 17 total touchdowns on the season.  Barkley struggled early in the season against two good rushing defenses though in Minnesota  and Michigan (averaging 3.2 and 3.9 yards in those games, respectively).   Wisconsin has the edge on defense, but when your offense can only muster about 13 points a game anyway, the wins come ugly.  NOT saying Wisconsin will win this contest – but what Beating Vegas is telling you is to watch this be a low scoring affair.

The Pick: The Under at 47

Four Game Teaser of the Week:  Clemson -1;  Redskins +14.5;  Alabama -12;  San Diego State/Wyoming over at 51

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

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:

Eli+Jenkins+Jacksonville+State+v+Michigan+i5CgVnj-zdKl

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

Kirk+Cousins+Washington+Redskins+v+Philadelphia+FptEaQuntErl

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

DeAndre+Hopkins+Tennessee+Titans+v+Houston+xdykTQ8e-hel

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 Fifteen

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: Pushed on that sloppy and head scratching Jets win against Dallas, lost with Georgia State but covered with Ohio University and the big tease.  NFL is running high on emotion at this point of the year and there is no telling how these bowl games will unfold in college – BUT, we’ve been pretty much taking care of our faithful readers here at NGSCSports.Com, so don’t you worry, we got you!

The Bahamas Bowl (played at Thomas Robinson Stadium):

Middle Tennessee State (+4.5) vs Western Michigan

The line is interesting but the over/under is what you should be looking at.  Vegas has put the points total between the two universities at 63.  It’s a pretty big number but taking the ‘over’ just might be the way to go.  Out of the twelve games Western Michigan has played this year, nine have had a points total of at least 60 points.  Senior quarterback Zach Terrell will get to showcase his talents in this game in front of a national audience who isn’t familiar with him.  Terrell has thrown at a 68% completion rate, and has accumulated over 3200 yards and 27 touchdowns this season.   Middle Tennessee State has been averaging       points per game this season and it’s due to their aerial attack courtesy of sophomore quarterback Brent Stockstill who’s stats mirror Terrell’s except he’s thrown for about 500 more yards.  Middle Tennessee is able to look good against the bad teams, but drew losses to better competition in the Sun Belt Conference (Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech) and had back to back losses against lowly BCS Conference opponents (Vanderbilt and Illinios).   Neither team has a defense that will scare off these high octane offenses but Western Michigan is clearly the more balanced of the two attacks.  Western Michigan is a pretty good bet at -4.5 but that over is too tempting to let go of.

The Pick: The Over at 63

 

The St. Petersburg Bowl (played at Tropicana Field)

Uconn (+4.5) vs Marshall

Nov 8, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; Connecticut Huskies corner back Jamar Summers (21) returns an onside kick against Army at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

UConn is a pretty awful 6-6 team, who somehow beat a ranked Houston team during this season.  The UConn Huskies put up a putrid 17.8 points a game (second to last in the American Conference) BUT – this is a team that DOES have a defense allowing only 19.8 points per game (second in the conference, only to Temple).  UConn’s brand of football is uneventful and hard to look at, but it’s got them to a bowl game (for what it’s worth.)  Marshall’s defense is stout as well.  They were the best defense in Conference USA (18.4 points allowed per game).  Marshall’s opposition threw at a completion percentage under 50% against them, although when they played the aerial attacks of Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky, that number swelled considerably. . .  That won’t be an issue against UConn though, who as a team, struggle to run and struggle to pass.   Ultimately, Marshall will win the turn over battle and force enough three and outs that things will work out for them.

The Pick: Marshall -4.5

 

The Sun Bowl (played at Sun Bow Stadium)

Miami Hurricanes (+3) vs Washington State

Luke+Falk+Washington+State+v+Washington+qrvfWLpi1iRl

The Washington State Cougars were a nice surprise out of the Pac-12 this year, finishing with an 8-3 record, mostly due to their aerial assault.  Wide receivers Gabe Marks and Dom Williams are both close to accomplishing some impressive highlights to their amazing seasons.  Marks has over 1100 receiving yards but he is one catch shy of 100 receptions, while Williams is three yards away from a 1000 yard season.   These two talented wide outs have been the beneficiaries of their quarterback Luke Falk who has thrown for 37 touchdowns and has completion percentage of 70%.    The Miami Hurricanes defense has 15 interceptions on the year and hold opponents to less than 200 yards through the air.  That is nearly half of what Luke Falk averages per game throwing the ball —  Something has GOT to give.   Miami’s rush defense is terrible but that shouldn’t matter because the Cougars barely run the ball anyhow.  Offensively the Hurricanes live and die by quarterback Bray Kaaya who isn’t a bad quarterback but has very little help around him and at times pushes too much.

The Pick: The Over at 61

Antonio+Brown+Denver+Broncos+v+Pittsburgh+mlOvZQvymojl

If You Must:   The Pittsburgh Steelers at -10 over their rival the Baltimore Ravens seems like a slam dunk.  The Ravens offense has turned into “throw it to Aiken and let’s see what happens” while their defense has turned into “let’s sleep walk through this season and see what happens.”  The Steelers are coming into the end of the regular season hot and if Big Ben remains healthy there is no reason this team can’t put up five touchdowns a game.  The Ravens haven’t even scored five touchdowns in their last three games. . .

Tease of the Week: (four gamer) Cowboys/Bills Under 55; Chiefs – .5; Marshall +7.5 and Seahawks -1.5

 

Good Luck, Wager Wisely and Happy Holidays!

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

Sony+Michel+Kentucky+v+Georgia+cCjbNQc27-Jl

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

Mike+London+Richmond+v+Virginia+h4e4AoH6R2Zl

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

Robert+Nkemdiche+Mississippi+v+Georgia+Tech+-vB20XzSzpIl

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

Beating Vegas: Entry Nine

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 split it down the middle last week.  USC is joining the likes of Ole Miss in the sense they are either “feast or famine” when playing the lines. . . Temple and Iowa made us sweat it out, but a win is a win, so let’s keep on truckin’!

Oklahoma (+2.5) at Baylor

Baylor+v+Kansas+State+3wtIgMO6ICcl

The Big 12 Conference saw one of their “mighty” teams go down, as TCU fell to Oklahoma State last weekend (if you follow me on Twitter, you would’ve seen me give that pick out Saturday morning by-the-way. . .).   It’s up to Baylor to keep hope alive for the Conference that ignores things like “strength of schedule” and a “conference championship game.”  We’ve discussed coach Art Briles and his Baylor Bears before – it’s a relentless offense that sets out to make a point each week.  Freshman quarterback Jarrett Stidham stepped in last week and threw for 419 yards with a little over half of that total being received by the stud wide-out Corey Coleman.   Coleman, along with KD Cannon provide possibly the best one-two receiver punch in football – and they are backed up by a “usually” strong running game from Shock Linwood.  The word “usually” crept into that sentence because against Kansas State, the running attack slowed down a bit.  Oklahoma provides a pretty good run defense itself, only allowing opponents 3.5 yards a carry.  Oklahoma has the athletes on defense to not only give Baylor’s running game fits but also it’s highly praised passing attack.  Oklahoma has only allowed 11 passing touchdowns and has nabbed 12 interceptions while holding the opposition to a 52% completion percentage.  Even if Seth Russell could quarterback for Baylor today, I’d still say Oklahoma.  Sooners take care of business, and it will be by double digits.

The Pick: Oklahoma +2.5

Ohio State (-16.5) at Illinois

J+T+Barrett+Ohio+State+v+Virginia+Tech+te_2CrHXEl7l

No matter how this season ends for Ohio State, ESPN better be working on the “30 for 30” documentary about this year’s Buckeyes team.   It’s been about and it’s all about the quarterback’s at Ohio State, and one week after being suspended a game, it looks like J.T. Barrett will be back under center, while the man who started the season, Cardale Jones is back to holding the clipboard.  Urban Meyer knows that the next two weeks will determine his fate (games against Michigan State and Michigan) but Meyer is one who doesn’t look ahead and will have his team ready for a Illinois team that is neither good, or bad.  The “middle of the pack” Illini have a mess behind the scenes with their athletic director this week, this after the resignation of the school chancellor and the August firing of their head coach.  To say they are in a “transition stage” is an understatement.  Nevertheless, this is an Illinois team that is 5-4 and shows fight week to week.  Where Illinois struggles the most on the football field though, is when they play an above average quarterback.  North Carolina’s Marquisse Williams threw for three touchdowns and at a 70% completion rate in a game where UNC won 48-14;  In their loss to Penn State, Christian Hackenberg threw at 72% completion rate and  two touchdown passes; and even in their nine point loss to Iowa, although they held C.J. Beathard to a completion percentage of under 50%, he too threw two touchdown passes.  If J.T. Barrett is on, which he very well should be – this should be an easy twenty point victory.  Keep in mind, we didn’t even mention how Illinois has no answer for Ohio State running back Ezikel Elliot, so. . .yeah.

The Pick: Ohio State -16.5

N.C. State (+9.5) at Florida State

Clemson+v+North+Carolina+State+IKlORdfNnBtl

In the post-Jameis Winston era, the Seminoles aren’t as dominant as they once were and it shows.  In their loss last week to Clemson, Florida State gave them all they could, but seemingly ran out of gas in the fourth quarter.  This week the Seminoles face an interesting opponent in N.C. State.  The Wolfpack have six wins this season and are still in search of that one “trademark win” to show that their program has stepped up.  N.C. State’s quarterback Jacoby Brissett  is throwing the ball at a 64% completion percentage and his two turnovers prove how efficient and poised he’s been all season long.  The Wolfpack as a whole are averaging close to 35 points a game and are physical for the most part.  That physical play will be key, because Florida State is still coming off of that physical loss to Clemson.  N.C. State has had better looking wins than Florida State against ACC bottom feeders like Wake Forest and Boston College – and nobody would be surprised to see the Seminoles come out flat -because that’s pretty much what they do.

The Pick: N.C. State +9.5

 

Arizona Cardinals (+3) at Seattle Seahawks

Arizona+Cardinals+v+Cleveland+Browns+bIeRNrTFB5fl

This one is kind of easy to sniff out.  The Seahawks are only the favorite here because of the public “mystique” surrounding the home field advantage in Seattle.  If this game was in Arizona, the Cardinals might be a 7.5 point favorite – real talk.  Russell Wilson has fallen short of (rather lofty-and premature) expectations, throwing only nine touchdowns and pairing that with six interceptions.  He’s holding the ball too long, and his offensive line has let him down in pass protection, as his league leading 32 sacks proves.  Luckily for Wilson, the Cardinals have only netted 13 sacks on the year but they are comfortable letting opposing quarterbacks test their secondary as they have a league leading 13 interceptions (three of them returned for a touchdowns).  The run defense of Arizona is holding teams to less than four yards a carry, which is what Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is hitting per attempt.   Carson Palmer has more than enough weapons on offense to handle a “Legion of Boom” that appears to look the weakest it’s looked in years.

The Pick: Arizona +3

If You Must:  Does anybody know why the Cincinnati Bearcats are a 17.5 point favorite over Tulsa?  This makes no sense which probably means – as Lee Corso of ESPN would say:  “Somebody, somewhere knows something. . .”   — Even then, I just can’t have faith in a Cincinnati team that has been pretty underwhelming this season – Tulsa is just as good as them – take Tulsa with the points, and just hope this isn’t a sucker bet. . .

Teaser of the Week: Cardinals +15, Michigan State -2.5, Stanford +2.5 and Mississippi State +19.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio