Tag Archives: NCAAF

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: 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: 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: Getting Bullish Early

It’s the start of the college season. Kind of-sort of.  Do people even call this “week one of college football?”

There are five games slated for Saturday.  Think of it as an appetizer to next week’s barrage of games that awaits.  Let’s not get crazy though.  We’ve waited a long time and these games aren’t the most “watch-able.” So let’s be smart and wager wisely.

 

South Florida -20.5 at San Jose State

Don’t let that stint at Texas fool you.  Charlie Strong is a very good college football coach.  Texas was almost a “set-up” job from the start.  It’s always nonsense when a coach is given a bad squad and never really given an opportunity to turn the program around.  That’s in the past now though and Charlie Strong finds himself in a great situation with South Florida. He has a true dual-threat QB in Quinton Flowers.  Much of the defense is returning and although it wasn’t a “shut down” defense (lowest point total allowed was 20 points to Syracuse) one would expect improvement especially with Charlie Strong at the helm.  San Jose State on the other hand lost in a bunch of shoot-outs against teams with equally horrible defenses.  Towards the end of the year they showed some fight against Boise State and Air Force but ultimately came up empty.  Last season San Jose couldn’t do much to stop the oppositions run attack and did very little to stop the oppositions pass rush (gave up 50 sacks).   With uncertainty at the quarterback position after Spring, this is a squad that is really ripe for the picking.  Charlie Strong will look to make an example out of someone early.  South Florida will be heavily favored in their first three games of the season and for good reason.  This is a double digit win team come year’s end.

The Pick: South Florida -20.5

 

 

Rice +30 versus Stanford (game being played in Sydney, Australia)

Stanford enters this season asking themselves: “who will fill the void left by running back Christian McCaffrey?”  The answer is found in the speedy Bryce Love.  Love is no slouch, as he averaged 7 yards a carry last season including three 100 yard rushing games (most notably the 115 yards he put up against UNC in the Sun Bowl).

Rice’s offensive line is weak – to put it lightly and going up against a tradition front-force like Stanford will be the beginning and end of this game.  Rice’s offensive line will be pushed around and their secondary is one of the worse in college football.  Good news is that Stanford isn’t looking to do much more than run due to the fact they have no real studs in their wide out group and nobody is really sold on Keller Chryst as anything more than “a guy who plays quarterback for Stanford.”

Stanford went 10-3 last year and never won by a margin of 30 points. Subtract their best players from both sides of the ball (Christian McCaffrey and Soloman Thomas) and it’s hard to see them coming out week one and looking to blow the barn doors off of anyone.  Head coach David Shaw isn’t one to run up the score either.  He’d rather kill the clock when up.

The Pick: Rice +30

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: NCAA Team Win Totals

It’s almost that time of year.

Okay let’s be honest, as soon as Vegas puts out their over/under for team win totals, you know that the time has come for football season.  Here are some teams that Beating Vegas just can’t avoid putting something on before the seasons kicks off.  We did extremely well last year so be smart and follow along.

Alabama Crimson Tide : 11 Wins

When factoring the total over/unders for a team you first look at the “easy” wins.  For as great as Bama is, and I’m truly not taking anything away from them, they do schedule some cupcakes.  Considering the SEC isn’t what it once was, that is disappointing.  Wins against Colorado State, Mercer and Fresno State should be an absolute “no contest.”  Vanderbilt (who we’ll get to later) will be a doormat in the SEC, Ole Miss is falling apart and Tennessee – well they are what they are: A team that just isn’t good enough to beat Bama.  The rest of the schedule is intriguing. Remember what I said about cupcakes?  Forget about that already – the Crimson Tide open the season in outer conference play against Florida State.  This is a monster game in week one because both of these teams are considered playoff-worthy and this game could determine their fates early.  Bama opens up as a 7 point favorite but they lost a lot of talent on that defense. Not saying they won’t be good, but not as dominant as last year.  Arkansas gets to play Bama after the Tide have games against Ole Miss and at Texas A&M and this offensive line might be able to push back on Bama more than they’re used to.  The games against LSU and Auburn are too close to call and this year it might be just too much for Bama to go nearly perfect. 11 is just a hard number. . . even for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide this year.

The Pick: Under

Auburn Tigers: 8.5 Wins

Last year this Auburn team went 8-5, including a season opener where they lost to eventual National Champs Clemson, and losses to Alabama and Oklahoma to finish off the season (teams that finished #2 and #5 respectively).  The Auburn Tigers are expected to go with Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham at QB, and if there is anything to say about Baylor QB’s it’s that they are usually athletic and are use to throwing the ball a lot. In Auburn’s system though, he’ll be asked to make reads that aren’t foreign to him and have a two-headed monster at running back this year with Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson.  Losing only three games with a squad that has eight returning starters on both side of the ball seems too easy.  They WILL go on the road and beat Clemson this year and after that the only two games that should pose a threat to them is their road game against LSU, and the season ending Iron Bowl, which they host this year against the Crimson Tide.

The Pick: Over

Boston College Eagles: 4 Wins

Boston College is a team I usually look at a lot during the season. Not because the team is exciting or moves me emotionally but because they are typically coached well defensively and are boring on offense.  So games tend to go under.  Last year though, this defense saw the emergence of the ACC as possibly being the best conference in college football (we can argue which is the best at a later time, folks) they got lit up Louisville, Florida State and Virginia Tech.  Give the Eagles credit though – they schedule themselves against all division one schools, no cup cakes, so to speak – with that being said no game is easy when you’re below average.  They can beat UConn (which is on a neutral site) and Central Michigan – maybe.

The Pick: Under

Wisconsin Badgers: 10.5 Wins

I was just speaking highly of how the ACC might be the best conference in college football, but the Big 10 may have something to say about that.  While the rest of the world shakes in their boots over an Urban Meyer coached Ohio State team, marvels at the insanity of Jim Harbaugh at Michigan or how the masses seemingly fell in love with Penn State again because of James Franklin’s renaissance in Happy Valley – Wisconsin goes under the radar.  But, why?  Wisconsin lost three games last year – all by 7 to the three teams mentioned. This year their schedule is a joke by all standards. Before playing Michigan at home November 18th, their toughest challenges are road games against BYU and Nebraska.  The only game they might lose is Michigan or if they’re caught sleep-walking, their end of the year road trip to Minnesota.  Either way, they’ll keep it interesting until the season wraps up.

The Pick: Over

Vanderbilt Commodores: 6 Wins

Vegas has Vandy at 6 wins.  Honestly, I just can’t see it.  Some folks saw the improvement the offense made late last season as something that will continue into this season, but I don’t.  The offensive line is probably the worse in the SEC and they have a middle of the defense that will force their safety Ryan White to leave his average-at-best corner backs in one on one coverage.  In a game of spades, Vanderbilt is the annoying partner that says “Four and two possibles,” — count those possibles as losses.

The Pick: Under

Oregon Ducks: 8 Wins

Oregon ranked 117th in total defense last year and are now in the midst of going back to a 3-4 scheme (gathered that info from Lindy’s Sports).  Eight is a very tall number for a team that finished with four wins last year.  Vegas is betting on the public that is still in love with the gimmick offense that gets dressed in new garb every week.  Tough conference roads games against Stanford, UCLA and Washington will make it tough for them and home games against Nebraska, Washington State and California won’t be much welcomed at all.  Much like Vandy, I see the Ducks sliding right underneath their magic number, but it doesn’t matter if they miss 8 wins by 1 or 6 games, as long as it stays under (which it will) that’s all that matters.

The Pick: Under

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)

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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

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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)

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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: Tricky Times

Last week we went a respectable 2 out of 3 but the one we lost was supposed to be the lock of the year – thanks Michigan.  As you can tell from last weekend, this is the time of the year in college football where it’s risky business laying it down on teams many expect to be “power-houses. ” We’ve been consistent here at “Beating Vegas” though and we will continue that trend no matter what is going on in the world of football!

 

Virginia Tech +1 at Notre Dame

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We’ve stood away from the Fighting Irish all year.  Basically  because it’s Notre Dame and they are the most fickle team when looking at them against the spread.  This week though, they play host to a Virginia Hokies team that is 7-3.  Notre Dame’s Deshone Kizer is doing all he can in a season where all is lost for the Fighting Irish.  Kizer has NFL aspirations next year and most see him as a first round talent – but hold up.  Low on the radar of many is Virginia Tech’s quarterback  Jerod Evans, whose numbers are very similar to Kizer’s except that he throws at a higher completion percentage and has thrown fewer interceptions (four to Kizer’s eight).  When looking at team defense and team offense, the numbers are nearly identical.   The only difference that stands out is the Virginia Tech pass defense. The Hokies hold opponents to a 49% completion percentage and have picked off the opposition ten times so far this year.  This puts everything on Kizer, as it’s been all year, and when lining up a healthier Virginia Tech against a beat up Notre Dame team that hasn’t been in sync all year, it’s kind of easy to lean on the side of Tech for this one.

The Pick: Virginia Tech +1

Arizona State +27  Washington

A lot of folks predicted Washington being upset by USC last week before it happened.  It was a shame, they were having a magical season, but in the world of college football – some will fall.  Washington’s loss came at the hands of a newly rejuvenated Trojans team, who are looking to gain respect back in the conference they once owned by default.  In no way, shape or form did the Trojans “expose” a weakness in Washington – they just beat them flat out.  With that in mind, Washington will be looking to impress the “committee” by putting on a show against the lowly Arizona State Sun Devils.  We told you last week that Utah would cover that -5.5 spread against Arizona State and they did it with the greatest of ease.  This time around, Arizona State plays a more talented and pissed off Huskies team with something to prove.   As reported on YahooSports.Com “The Sun Devils have allowed 64 plays of 20-plus yards (tied for 121st out of 128 teams nationally), 34 plays of 30-plus yards (123rd), 24 plays of 40-plus yards (127th), 16 plays of 50-plus yards (127th) and 11 plays of 60-plus yards (tied for 126th).” This is music to the ears of Washington quarterback Jake Browning who already averages 10 yards per pass and the running backs Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman who average 6 and 9 yards a carry respectively.  In short, the spread is huge, but Arizona State is too one dimensional on offense and too below average overall to compete against a loaded Washington team that is out to prove something to the world this week.

The Pick: Washington -27

Patriots -12 at San Francisco

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The 49ers are killin’ it right now, riding an eight-game losing streak and much like the previous post about a “pissed off Washington Huskies” team — the Niners welcome the New England Patriots to San Fran, after they just lost on national television to the Seattle Seahawks.  You think those kind of things don’t matter?  Think again.  The Patriots were favored by seven points in that game and then before kick-off the line moved – in their favor – to NINE points. . . and they lost.  Something got terribly lost in translation between the football-gods and the wise-guys in Vegas.  Tom Brady and Bill Belichick must be foaming at the mouth to get an opportunity to go against one of the NFL’s most putrid teams in the league.   The Niners give up the most points per game in the NFL at 31, and give up the most yards per game in the league as well (5.1 yards a carry / 180 rushing yards a game).  And although their pass defense isn’t dead last, and instead somewhere in the middle of the pack – they still give up nearly 250 passing yards a game at a completion percentage of 62%.   This is just bad news for the Niners, who are coming off an impressive loss at the hands of the Cardinals, only losing by a score of 23-20 to the Cardinals.  Yeah, when you start giving credit to teams for “impressive losses” it’s safer to go the other way. . .

The Pick: Patriots -12

Four Game Teaser of the Week:  Patriots to win;  Boston College/UConn under 49; Nebraska -2.5; Utah -2.5

 

Good luck and wager wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Outsmart the Wise

Last week, the hot-shots at Vegas had some tricky lines but over here at Beating Vegas, we netted another winning week.  The NFL has left many scratching their heads as last year’s powerhouses like the Cardinals and the Panthers are struggling left and right, while teams like the Rams and the Vikings are proving to be the cream of the crop.  The hard-work will be accomplished here as we continue to give you winners against the spread though so keep checking for this column weekly and visit mybookie.ag so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .

Washington Redskins +3.5 at Baltimore Ravens

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The Baltimore Ravens finally played an above average team and lost their first game this season and the Washington Redskins became a .500 team with a “little” help from the referees.  In the NFL it doesn’t matter how you get your wins, but for our purposes, how you win is just as/and sometimes more important than the actual win. The Ravens have been fluttering around the league looking a notch below mediocre and coming out with victories.  Credit that to coach Harbaugh (no, the other Harbaugh. . .the one who’s actually won something in his career. . .) but as stated last week, the Ravens best weapon on offense is their kicker Justin Tucker.  Sure they should something last week with running back Terrence West, but that was more of a fault to the Raiders who couldn’t stop anything that was attacking the left side of their defense.  Joe Flacco has been inconsistent this season and the Ravens best option at wideout is the seventy-five year old veteran Steve Smith, who this week will be matched up against the Redskins’ Josh Norman (popcorn, anyone?).  The Redskins go as far as Kirk Cousins’ own mediocrity will take them.  Offensively they seemed to put it together last week – albeit it was against the Browns, but this might be the kind of game that gets Cousins back on track.  The Redskins have speed and talent at the skill positions and should easily spread the Ravens thin.  The Ravens win or lose games by single digits and the Skins always have the “talent” on both sides of the ball – it’s their execution that comes into question.  Take the talent.

The Pick: Redskins +3.5

Chicago Bears +5 at Indianapolis Colts

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This is quite possibly the most disgusting game of the week. . . eh, maybe even the year.  The Bears have been showing no signs of turning fortunes around this season and getting their first win against a Detroit team that’s been a perennial loser for two decades is nothing to celebrate.  The Colts just lost to a Jaguars team that is one of the hardest to figure out – and it seems now that Andrew Luck’s frustrations are coming to a boil.  The Colts have the worst roster in the NFL today but Andrew Luck and Frank Gore are doing all they can to keep it together – by themselves.  The Bears are so bad as a franchise they’re actually considering leaving Brian Hoyer in at quarterback even if Jay Cutler is cleared to play.  I guess the Bears haven’t seen the story of Brian Hoyer being a starting quarterback in the NFL yet. . . most of us have seen it twice, two thumbs – wayyyy down.  So why would we bother watching this trash on a Sunday?  Easy.  Gore can run through the Bears front line and Luck can air it out against one of the most trash-bag secondaries in the league.  The Colts will struggle against Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard, and the Chuck Pagano coached defense of the Colts stinks.

The Pick: The Over 47.5

Syracuse +3 at Wake Forest

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Each of these teams will struggle trying to get to six wins this season and that’s mostly because there is a gauntlet of talented teams in the ACC.  Unfortunately for Wake Forest and Syracuse they are not included in that gauntlet.  Defensively Wake Forest crushes Syracuse – if you look at the numbers, that is.  Wake allows 20 ppg compared to Syracuse’s 37 – but Syracuse has played the likes of Louisville, South Florida and Notre Dame; Wake has played Delaware, Tulane and Indiana. . . Wake’s rush defense is impressive only allowing 3.3 yards a run.  That’s nice and all, and would mean something – but Syracuse doesn’t run the ball.  Syracuse has a spread offense that averages 370 passing yards a game and completes 31 passes a game – this is tops in the ACC, a conference that has Clemson, Louisville and UNC.  This is bad news for Wake Forest who’s pass defense has allowed the fourth most passing yards in the conference and allows opponents to complete passes at about a 57% rate.  One of college football’s best kept secrets is quarterback Eric Dungey of Syracuse – he’ll have his way against Wake.

The Pick: Syracuse +3

Michigan -27.5 at Rutgers

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Michigan has hit the “finally” mark this season.  Last week they “finally” played a worthy opponent and this week they “finally” play an away game.  Lucky for Michigan their first away game is against one of the worst teams in division one football, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers.  Rutgers ranks 268th in passing offense and 225th in total yards per game. Defensively they are dead last in the Big Ten Conference allowing 32 points a game.  Pretty impressive to be dead last in that category considering it means you have to play worse defense than Illinois, Purdue and Penn State.  Michigan has already won by more than 30 points on three separate occasions this season against teams that are bottom feeders like Rutgers.  Add to the fact that Michigan’s rival Ohio State just lit up Rutgers 58-0 last week – coach Jim Harbaugh and his boys will look to outdo their rivals by giving Rutgers a beat down for the ages.

The Pick: Michigan -27.5

Washington -8.5 at Oregon

The fact that Oregon is apparently going to sport some cool “Webbed Feet” jerseys this week, should be enough to make anyone watch this game.  From a football stand-point though, Washington, after stomping out Stanford last week, is looking to put a stranglehold on the Pac-12.  Washington hasn’t beating Oregon in over a decade and the cards should line up for them this year.  They have the number one offense (45 PPG) and defense (12 PPG) in the Pac-12 but let us look at this in depth. . . three of the offenses they’ve played were Idaho, Rutgers and Portland State – not exactly the kind of heavyweights selection committees faun over. . . Last week’s huge win over Stamford had the Cardinal missing three offensive linemen, and two starters in their secondary – add to the fact that the Stanford Cardinal have no real answer at quarterback – safe to say it was a good time to catch them.  The only time Washington faced a real offense was against Arizona, where they came away with the win, 35-28.  . . College football pundits have been talking about the decline of Oregon, but one thing you cannot deny is that they can still score points (40ppg) and rack up over 500 yards a game.  Oregon lost last week to a Washington State team that will give anyone fits, and before that lost by three points in back to back weeks to Nebraska and Colorado.  Not saying Washington will lose this match up, but Oregon is going to come out with something to prove in what could be a “let-down” type of game for Washington.

The Pick: Oregon +8.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Colorado/USC Over 48.5; Michigan -15.5; Notre Dame +13 and Toledo -5.

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Let’s Not Over-React

About Last Week:  Oh Seattle. . . Russell Wilson seemed out of sorts last week and that Cincinnati / Purdue game made us sweat it out, but we got that “under.”  When it came to Louisville clearing sixteen at Syracuse – it really doesn’t get much easier than that. . . Seriously, keep checking this column and mybookie.ag every week so you can beat the NCAA and NFL Lines. . .

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Tennessee Titans +6.5 at Detroit Lions

After being up 21-3 and  then having to edge out a win 39-35 against the Colts, the Lions should be counting their blessings.  The Colts don’t have much depth, neither do the Lions, so on paper it should have been a close game anyway.  Vegas has the Lions as a one touchdown favorite against a team that should be making strides this season.  Minnesota’s offense didn’t do much against Tennessee’s defense (the Titans even held the unstoppable Adrian Peterson to an abysmal 1.9 yards a carry) as the offense had to settle for four Blair Walsh field goals.  Marcus Mariota’s costly two interceptions turned into defensive touchdowns which made the difference in the game.  This time around, Mariota plays against an easier defensive opponent and a team, in the Lions who never knows how to put anybody away.  Expect the Titans to mix in Derrick Henry a little more with Demarco Murray early to see if they can have the same amount of success that Frank Gore had last week (4.2 yards a carry) against Detroit.  They may want to ease Mariota into the game and keep an overly anxious Matt Stafford on the sidelines.

The Pick: Tennessee Titans +6.5

 

Atlanta Falcons +4.5 at Oakland Raiders

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The Oakland Raiders gave us a gutsy and exciting game last week against the New Orleans Saints, but all was not to be celebrated.  The Raiders came into this season ranting and raving about a defense that was ready to take on the world, but Drew Brees and the Saints threw the ball all over the field on them, leaving it up to Derek Carr and the Raiders offense to carry the load.  The good news is, Carr looks totally in-sync with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree – the chemistry from last year, just seems to have gotten better.  The Falcons have a top flight wide-out in Julio Jones there is no doubting that, and they even have two talented backs in Coleman and Freeman – but that offensive line is still an issue.  Matt Ryan has slid down to  be the fourth best quarterback in the NFC South (remember class there are only four teams in the division).   If the Oakland Raiders are truly back in the picture as a team that matters, beating an average at best team at home by a touchdown should be a requirement on their resume.

The Pick: The Raiders -4.5

 

Houston Cougars -9 at Cincinnati Bearcats

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To be honest, there was some wavering on this one.  And the golden rule should be – if you’re not sure, stay away – but it’s a Thursday night game and we all can’t avoid a little college football action in the middle of the week. . .  The Bearcats have found a better look in their offense with Hayden Moore at quarterback but the competition has been way below average.  The Ohio-Valley Conference was represented by Tenn-Martin and the Bearcats struggled for a half and couldn’t stop the run.  Then they beat the worst team in the Big 10 by 18 points. . .  Meanwhile, Houston has showed off a tough defense in both of their wins, one of those wins was the season opener in which they were in control against Baker Mayfield and that Oklahoma Sooner offense.  In just two games, the Bearcats have three 100 yard rushers (and one 80 yard rusher) and will be able to eat the Bearcats offensive line all day.  History shows that in the last three years the winner of this game has been decided by 7 points or less, but this is a huge year for Houston and they are looking to make examples out of teams that are clearly not in their league.  This game has a lot of the Louisville / Syracuse feeling from last week and we saw what the better team did in that one. . .

The Pick: Houston -9

Western Mich  -3.5 at Illinois

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Year in and year out, Western Michigan has an impressive and very un-noticed team.  Welcome to the glory of the MAC Conference.  Western Michigan comes complete in their passing attack and their ground game. Senior wide receiver Corey Davis is having a nice start to the season snatching seven catches a game and already racking up 220 yards in his two games.  This will prove to be a problem on the Illinois defense as Lovie Smith still hasn’t learned that the Cover-2 base defense just isn’t a good idea anymore.  Watching Illinois, they leave the middle of the field open all day long – this is what helped get Lovie fired as head coach of the Chicago Bears.  The Illini are giving up 440 passing yards a game and expect that trend to continue.

The Pick: Western Michigan -3.5

South Florida Bulls -14.5 at Syracuse Orange

Syracuse was just embarrassed on national television last week (as was predicted here on Beating Vegas) and now they are a double digit home dog.  The Regular-Joes will ride the favorite in this game because of what they saw.  But it’s all about what they don’t see.  South Florida was able to open the season to beat up on Towson and Northern Illinois, while Syracuse had one cup cake opponent and then a monster in Louisville.   Syracuse’s problem isn’t moving the ball, it’s finishing drives and they are going up against a defense that hasn’t been tested yet.  Syracuse has a fast paced offense led by quarterback Erik Dungey, who is flying under the radar now, but is one of the more exciting quarterbacks to watch play.  Syracuse may not win this game, but they definitely won’t get blown out either.  The Bulls may get winded early and have to muscle a win out of this one.

The Pick: Syracuse +14.5

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If You Must: Take Memphis at home -20 against the visiting Kansas Jayhawks.  If this was basketball, Kansas would be  a road favorite by at least 7 or 8, but in the world of football, Kansas has won six road games since 2011 and haven’t really been trending upwards in the last two years.

Four Game Teaser: Saints/Giants Over 40.5;  Cardinals +5.5; Panthers -1.5 and Ohio State +10

 

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: College Rolls, NFL Starts

Last week: Killed it with Tulane, killed it with the UNC/Georgia over, pushed on Boston College and even nailed the under on the Stanford / Kansas State game.  Seriously, keep checking this column out every week. . .

 

Cincinnati -6.5 at Purdue

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Games like these are avoided by the casual college football watcher and for good reason.  Purdue might be the worst team in the Big Ten, while Cincinnati is better remembered as “the school Brian Kelly used to coach at.”  Purdue lacks a pass rush and has one of the weaker secondaries in the NCAA.  Cincy can answer for at least ONE of those weaknesses.  The Bearcats’ running game and offensive line is the back bone of this offensive attack.  Quarterback Gunner Kiel is one of those guys with the “physical” talents (and cool first name) that usually leaves fans unimpressed.  This year, Kiel will be working with a new crop of wide outs to test this weak Purdue secondary.  Purdue will try to run the ball but won’t have the speed to outrun Cincy on the outside.  The over / under is set at 64.5 because of the lack of defensive firepower but Vegas might be over-selling the value of these offenses.

The Pick: The Under at 64.5

Louisville -16 at Syracuse

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This line keeps going up and for good reason.  If the nation was sleeping on Louisville before this season started, the Cardinals definitely woke up the dormant masses last week by trouncing Charlotte 70-14.  Yes, it was Charlotte, but make no mistake this Cardinals team is legit.  After being up 56-0 in the first half the Cardinals took their foot off the throats of Charlotte. Quarterback Lamar Jackson scored 8 total touchdowns last week and made it look as if he was playing on “easy-mode.”  On the other side of things Syracuse is a team that just won 33-7 verse Colgate, but looking deeper at the numbers there is cause for concern.  Two of their three touchdowns came on a 43 yard pass and a 49 yard run – Louisville’s defense might give up a play like that once a game. . . to a good team.  Syracuse also had to settle for field goals four times during the game because their offense was stopped by Colgate. . . Louisville may be at Syracuse, but they’re going to be those disrespectful house guests that put their dirty feet on your kitchen table and spit on the floor.

The Pick: Louisville -16

Miami Dolphins -10.5 at Seattle Seahawks

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The NFL returns this week, and it does so with a very “bleh” opening weekend.  The Seahawks enter the season with high expectations as they should while the Dolphins tell themselves things will be different and they won’t be.   It’s becoming really easy to go “chalk” and take the Seahawks at home but how can you not when the Dolphins are traveling 3,300 miles to play a game against a team that got better on offense and is still a top five defense.  Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is one of the more overrated starting quarterbacks in the league, who usually does his damage in “garbage time.”  Hopefully for him, when the game gets to that point, he’ll be already on the bench game planning for next week’s game.

The Pick: Seattle -10.5

 

Tulsa +29 at Ohio State

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Logic would say, take Ohio State and don’t worry – history would say “not so fast.”  So which way do we lean?  The logical way or the way of the historian?  Ohio State likes to line up these out of conference games and try to make quick work of their opposition.  They did that last week with a sixty-seven point blow out against Bowling Green and are looking to do that against Tulsa this week. Last season, Ohio State beat Western Michigan by 26 points and squeezed by Northern Illinois with a seven point victory.  Tulsa on the other hand is a bad team that can put up points.  Last year against Houston and Oklahoma they put up 24 and 38 points respectively in those losses.  Expect Tulsa to keep their starters in this one for all four quarters, which will give way to the “back door” points late in the game – or just keep up with the great Buckeyes for more than the Ohio State faithful will care to see.

The Pick: Tulsa +29

If you must: Take Clemson first half against Troy.   Right now the first half line is non-existent but the total game line is set at -36.  Lets guess that the first half is at 22.5 — you still take it.

4 Game Teaser: Louisville -2, Iowa -3, Tampa Bay Bucs +15 and Seahawks +1.5

 

Good luck and wager wisely!

 

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio