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Underdogs covered four of last five Pitt-Cincinnati games, with visitor winning four of the five; Pitt won two of last three visits here, but they lost 31-17 last week to I-AA Youngstown State, giving up 204 rushing yards, not a good start to the Paul Chryst era. Pitt covered 14 of its last 17 games coming off a loss. Since 2007, Pitt is 10-1-2 vs spread as a road underdog. Cincinnati is 7-10 as a home favorite last three years; this is its season opener. Bearcats lost 3 starters on OL, have a mobile QB who has played some WR. Pitt has a senior QB who has made 27 starts for three different head coaches. Panthers have 9 starters back on offense, 5 on defense; Cincy has only 4 back on offense, but 7 on defense.
Utah State lost its last 12 games to Utah, with road team covered five in a row in series; Utes won their last six visits to Logan, winning last three by combined score of 154-16. Utah has a junior QB with 20 career starts and three starters back on OL (9 back on offense, 7 on defense)- they've got rivalry game with BYU on deck next week. Utes are 12-10 as away favorites since 2006. Aggies have 6 starters back on both sides of ball; they're 2-3 as home dogs under Anderson. Both teams had ridiculously easy tuneup wins over I-AA clubs last week.
Penn State blew 14-3 halftime lead last week, lost at home to Ohio U in first game of O'Brien era; they're now just 2-13 vs spread in non-league games since '09. Virginia is 5-7-1 vs spread in last 13 games as favorite at home- they've got junior QB with 14 starts, and seven starters back on offense, three on OL. State was -3 in turnovers last week, passed ball 48 times, ran it only 22 times for 97 yards, and allowed Ohio to convert 13 of 21 third down plays. Game opened Virginia -5, was bet up to -10.
Central Florida has 8 starters back on offense but soph QB who made his first start last week, in 56-14 rout of hapless Akron; UCF was 14-19 passing for 180 yards, also had 206 rushing yards, so good balance, but now they're going way up in class, visiting Buckeye squad that ran ball for 294 yards last week and scored 56 points, after scoreless first 15:00. OSU also has soph QB, but he's made 11 starts; State covered 15 of its last 21 tries as a home favorite. Since '08, UCF is 10-7 outside C-USA.
Favorites covered last two UNC-Wake Forest games, after dogs covered four of previous five; Tar Heels lost two of last three visits here, as three of last four played here were decided by 21+ points. Wake struggled to beat I-AA Liberty 20-17 last week, outgained by 70 yards, running ball for less than 100 yards. Carolina was up 49-0 at half, gained 524 yards in 62-0 win over I-AA Elon. Since 2006, UNC is 4-7 vs spread as a road favorite. Wake Forest is 14-6 as home underdog since '04.
First SEC game for Missouri is hot ticket in Columbia; Mizzou has six starters back on both sides of ball, only two starters back on OL and QB with 14 career starts. Since '04, Mizzou is 3-4 as a home dog; they're 6-3 as underdog overall last two years. Georgia ran ball for 227 yards, passed for 258 in home win over Buffalo last week; they're 5-2 as road favorites since '09. Dawgs have 6 starters back on offense, 2 on OL, 9 on defense; QB Murray has made 28 career starts.
Kansas State (+13) pulled 28-24 upset at Miami LY, running ball for 265 yards; Wildcats are 4-6 as home favorites last four years- they've got 8 starters back on offense, 2 on OL, a senior QB with 16 starts, 6 starters back on defense. K-State was only up 9-6 at half vs Missouri State in its opener, but they pulled away in second half. Miami gave up 442 passing yards last week in 41-32 conference win at BC (led 21-20 at half). 'canes are 9-7 as underdogs last five years; they lost 7 starters on offense.
Notre Dame won six of last seven games with Purdue, winning last four by average score of 31-16; Boilermakers lost six of last seven visits here, losing last three by average score of 33-18. Irish were overseas last week, travel this early in season has to be draining, especially with Michigan St game on deck, much higher profile game. Notre Dame is 15-28-2 as home favorite, since 2003. Boilers are 7-10 as road dog last four years; they get senior QB Ter Bush back from suspension for this.
Wisconsin (-20.5) crushed Oregon State 35-0 at home LY, outrushing the Beavers 208-23, but since '07, Wisky is just 6-9-1 vs spread if favored on foreign soil. Badgers have new QB in Maryland transfer O'Brien, who had 219 passing yards in 26-21 win over I-AA Northern Iowa (was 13-0 at half) last week. Oregon State's opener vs Nicholls State was ppd due to the hurricane in Louisiana; Beavers have 7 starters back on offense, 2 on OL, a soph QB with 10 starts already and 8 starters back on defense.
Underdogs covered eight of last 11 Iowa State-Iowa games, with Iowa winning three of last four. Cyclones lost last four visits here by average score of 24-10. State has 7 starters back on offense, 3 on OL, soph QB with 7 starts and 5 starters back on defense- they beat Tulsa 35-23 last week at home, moving chains 28 times. Hawkeyes were lucky Northern Illinois doesn't have a QB who can pass, or they would've lost last week in Chicago; Iowa is 7-4 as a home favorite the last couple seasons.
LSU is 16-27-1 vs spread as a home favorite under Miles; they went to Seattle in '09 and held off Washington 31-23 (-17) playing against Titans' QB Jake Locker. Bayou Bengals have wealth of talent, with 4 starters back on OL, a more talented QB this year and 6 starters back on defense, Washington lost its bowl game 67-56 LY, so they changed DCs and last week held San Diego State to 128 passing yards in 21-12 win. Huskies are 7-15 as road underdogs since '07, 10-12 as dogs under Sarkisian.
Auburn won 10 of last 11 games with Mississippi State, winning five in row here, last two by unlikely 17-14/3-2 scores; favorites covered six of their last seven visits to Starkville. Since '08, Auburn is just 5-10 against spread coming off a loss; they've covered three of last 12 as road dogs, 5 of last 18 overall on road. Miss State is 5-3 vs spread in last eight games as home favorite. Auburn gave up 320 rushing yards in loss to Clemson last week. Miss State had two defensive scores against a I-AA team.
First SEC game for Texas A&M team that has new coach, new QB and had its first game ppd last week, because of a hurricane. Aggies have four starters back on OL, 7 on offense, 6 on defense. Since '04, they're 20-15 as home favorites. Florida had 7 starters back on offense, 10 on defense but they're 0-6 vs spread as underdogs over last two seasons. Gators had 365-327 edge in yardage over Bowling Green last week, led just 14-7 at half, finally won 27-14 (-29). Soph Driskill has emerged as starting QB.
UCLA had 343 rushing yards, 303 passing in 49-24 win at Rice in their opener, but they're up in class here, facing Nebraska squad that had 632 yards in 49-20 win over Southern Miss last week. Bruins are 5-3 as dogs at home last two years; they've got 7 starters back on offense, 9 more on defense, but they started five freshmen on offense at Rice. Cornhuskers are 9-4-1 as road favorites under Pelini; they've got 7 starters back on both sides of ball, and junior QB (Martinez) with 25 career starts.
Arizona State went to Illinois LY and outgained Illini by 122 yards, but lost 17-14 (+2); now teams meet again in desert, with both sides having a new HC. Illini QB Scheelhaase has banged up ankle, is a ??; they're 4-9 vs spread in last 13 road games. Illini has 7 starters back on both sides of ball. ASU lost 7 starters in both sides of ball; they've got new coach, new QB, three new starters on OL; they're 29-21 vs spread at home since '04. Illinois had four takeaways and a defensive TD in 24-7 win last week.
Thursday's List of 13: Random stuff on a late summer day.........
13) Do all Americans have freedom of speech? Not if you work at Notre Dame, which suspended radio analyst/alumnus Allen Pinkett for three games after he made insensitive comments before the Irish’s opening game with Navy.
Did I agree with Pinkett’s statements? Some yes, some no, and while they were most definitely politically incorrect, people fight wars to protect his rights to state his beliefs. It’s a shame his employers don’t feel the same way about it.
12) Houston Texans will be a very popular pick in knockout pools this week; in large part because of HBO’s Hard Knocks, every Miami Dolphin opponent might be popular until the Fish show they can play a little bit.
11) The question that needs to be asked about the Dolphins is this: Did they need this much of an overhaul? After a dismal 0-7 start LY, Miami did rally to finish 6-10, with Matt Moore at QB. Moore is pretty good.
10) Milwaukee Brewer owner Mark Attanasio seems like a sharp guy; the ceremony for Bob Uecker’s statue at Miller Park last week was tasteful; Attanasio also went on a Brewer TV telecast last week to explain why the team was shutting down young pitcher Mark Rogers for the season.
He didn’t lay it on the manager or GM; he’s the boss, and he told everyone what was being done and why. Smart.
9) Clemson coach Dabo Swinney brought boxer Evander Holyfield in last week to talk to his team, before they played Auburn, something about what it takes to be a champion. Must’ve worked, Clemson beat Auburn for the second year in a row.
8) We told you a few days ago how Savannah State got $385,000 from Oklahoma State to go play there; turns out they’re getting another $475,000 from Florida State to go get hammered there this week.
Industry experts were saying there is no way Savannah should’ve gotten less than a million bucks combined for those two games. I’m sure the school president will be thrilled to read that.
7) Only reason Florida State is playing Savannah State this week is because West Virginia backed out of a game with the Seminoles at last minute, and FSU had trouble finding a replacement they couldn't lose to.
6) Surprised that 28 of New England’s last 38 games went over total.
5) Before the Giant-Dallas game Wednesday, the last NFL game played on a Wednesday was in 1948, when the Rams beat Detroit 44-7.
4) We often hear announcers/coaches say how this isn’t the right time to panic; OK, so when exactly is the right time to panic?
3) There are 2,477 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
2) Eureka College plays Division III college football, no scholarships; their QB is Sam Durrey, and he threw for a college record 736 yards in Eureka’s 62-55 win over Knox last Saturday. His leading receiver was Jordan Kindred, who caught 15 balls for 235 yards for the Red Devils, in his first-ever organized football game. Kid was a basketball player before this.
1) If you’re a real good college athlete with a future in the pros, why would you not take some basic business classes and learn how to handle your own money, so you don’t put your wealth at risk by letting agents handle it? Not many people can be trusted around millions of dollars.
Its very sad that guys like Allen Iverson and Terrell Owens are broke; it just is, and they’re hardly the only ones.
Not much of an opinion on the game tonight. With the suspensions on the last game Pittsburgh never showed up. You would think they would bounce back and had an interesting week of practice. Usually when someone zigs I zag, so will pull for Pittsburgh +6 with a small degenerative play. GL
Friday's Dirty Dozen: Things I'm looking for this weekend........
12) I'm hoping Brandon McCarthy is feeling better and goes home from the hospital; he was hit in the head by a line drive Wednesday and had to have surgery to deal with a brain hemorrhage. Maybe the A's can win the World Series for him.
11) Missouri/Texas A&M have first conference games as SEC members this week; Aggies host Florida, Mizzou hosts Georgia. Still strange seeing them listed as SEC schools.
10) How will the Saints do without Sean Payton? I’m more pessimistic than most; think its going to be a rough year for New Orleans. Drew Brees is, in effect, the player-coach, at least on game days.
9) How will the Broncos do with Peyton Manning? Sunday night’s game with the Steelers is going to get a lot of attention, but John Fox has lost eight of his last nine season openers.
8) Is the AL East going to be a 3-horse race to the finish? Hard to believe its turned out this way, and Boston isn’t one of the three teams.
7) Wisconsin killed Oregon State LY, but now the Badgers are visiting Corvallis where the Beavers are generally a more feared animal. Interested to watch Maryland transfer O’Brien in his first road start for the Badgers.
6) Are the Miami Dolphins as weak as they’ve appeared on HBO’s Hard Knocks? After Miami lost at Dallas last week to finish an 0-4 (who cares?) preseason, Coach Philbin never even said (at least not for the cameras) “OK, starting next week, everything counts. Lets put this behind us.” You’d think he’d try to build some positive thoughts by dismissing the preseason results as unimportant, even if they’re not totally meaningless.
5) Penn State lost at home last week to a good Ohio U team, after leading 14-3 at the half; their game at Virginia this week is big from a confidence standpoint, since rats will start jumping off the ship if they start 0-2. This is a bandwagon that could empty out very quickly, which is why a win at Virginia is important for Coach O’Brien.
4) 49ers were 13-3 LY with a +28 turnover ratio; not a lot of injuries and the ball always seemed to bounce their way. This season starts for them in the 4:00 game at Lambeau, the national doubleheader game. How will Alex Smith play after the team tried and failed to acquire Peyton Manning to take his place?
3) Nebraska visits UCLA and new coach Jim Mora Jr, who started five freshmen on offense last week at Rice. Nebraska ain’t Rice. Curious to see how Mora’s Bruins play in this spot.
2) Dodgers have made a lot of moves in the last move, but the one move they haven’t yet made is moving up in the standings. Will LA’s talented, expensive starting 9 propel the Dodgers higher in the playoff chase?
1) Of the 32 NFL teams this week, five are starting rookie QB’s, five more are starting second-year QB’s. This is a recent trend, very recent, impacting partly by the fact that college teams throw the ball more now.