Tag Archives: Syracuse

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. . .


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


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


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


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



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

3 College Football “Sleepers”

It’s easy to pick the big-boys out of the bunch: Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Clemson – blah, blah, blah.    The sport of college football needs those consistent power houses.  Although, they maintain a level for which others should strive to attain – the intrigue of a season is mostly determined by  teams we never saw coming.

The term “sleeper” is tough to define.  It could be a traditionally weaker school out of a big conference, or a non-BCS conference team that threatens to move up the National Top 25.  Here are three teams that people should expect some noise from in the upcoming season.

Boston College. . . Last Season 3-9 record (0-8 in ACC)


Last season, the lack of an offense really derailed the Eagles.  B.C. lost five games by three or less points.  One of those losses was to a lowly Wake Forest team in a hard-to-watch 0-3 loss.  Anything resembling an offense could have (may have) changed the fortunes of this team but they had a pitiful pass attack which led defenses to stack the line against them routinely.  Boston College hopes things will be different with Kentucky graduate-transfer Patrick Towles at the quarterback position.  Patrick Towles is in no way the re-birth of Matt Ryan under center for the Eagles, but he is a quarterback who played in the SEC and has seen some of the faster defenses in recent history.  Aside from tough defensive assignments like Florida State, Clemson and Louisville – the schedule isn’t too harsh.  Even then, they lost to Florida State 14-0 and Louisville 17-14  last season so it wouldn’t be far fetched to say they can overcome those obstacles this year.  Running back John Hillman will be at full strength this season and he showed a lot of potential in 2014 running for over 800 yards and 13 touchdowns.  The defense has 8 returning starters which is good news for head coach Steve Addazio who needs a huge turn-around to keep his job this year.  It wouldn’t be shocking to see this team make some noise and come away with a big upset or two during the year.

Bowling Green. . . Last Season 10-4 record (7-1 in the MAC)


How is a 10 win team considered a “sleeper” team?  Easy: they lost their stud quarterback Matt Johnson to the NFL.  With him, Johnson  takes his forty-six touchdown passes and sixty-seven percent completion percentage.  Also, Bowling Green comes out of the MAC conference, and let’s be honest, the only time folks look out for MAC conference is when they are the only thing to watch on Thursday nights and you’re trying to win some easy money against your bookie.  The MAC has a few high powered offenses (because very few of these teams play defense) and folks are counting Bowling Green out because of the absence of Matt Johnson – pump your breaks on that.  New head coach Mike Jinks comes out of the high-octane Texas Tech Red Raiders offense.  Under Jinks the team had their first 1,000 yard rusher since 1998 (jeez fellas. . .) and he has an experienced quarterback at his disposal in Jame Knapke.  Knapke got significant playing time in 2014 and filled in admirably.  At times he’s a bit of a hot head and gets ahead of himself, but now more mature and in an offense that’s all his own, all is not lost.  Also in front of Knapke  are  four returning offensive linemen in front of him so the protection should not be a problem. They have an opening game at Ohio State where they will lose by eighty-five points, but after that it’s all fair game in the MAC for Bowling Green and James Knapke.

Air Force Falcons. . . Last Season 8-6 (6-2 record in Mountain West)


Last season Air Force had a one dimensional offense but nobody could really stop it, so they kept on doing what they do best: run the ball.  The Falcons’ ground game rushed for 4187 yards at a 5.5 yard clip.  They ran the ball 764 times – which was by far the most in the nation and this year they return with a two back set that is set to wreck havoc.  Timothy McVey (yes, that name makes me uncomfortable too) and Jacobi Owens will be a handful for the defenses on their schedule.  Oh, and their schedule – should pretty much be a breeze.   Navy isn’t as strong as last year, Boise isn’t what they used to be and they don’t play San Diego State (the team that beat them by three points in the Mountain West Championship game last year).  The Air Force defense has nine returning starters and they pretty much set up a different blitz package every time they lined up last season.  Now with a little more experience and bad competition this defense is set to have a huge impact.  Air Force is a team that could very well find themselves in the Top 25 when it’s all said and done – that is, if folks look passed their weak schedule. . .

If it wasn’t for their schedule Syracuse would’ve been a fourth team to keep an eye out for.   Quarterback Eric Dungey is an exciting player to watch and as stated in Lindy’s Sports “The hurry up spread is coming to Syracuse” which would fit Dungey’s skill set perfectly.  The only issue is, Notre Dame, Clemson, Boston College, Florida State, Louisville – you get the picture. . .



G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio