09/22/2011 07:15 AM
North Carolina Tar Heels at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-6.5, 57.5)
Why North Carolina will cover: UNC is ranked 16th nationally against the run, which is GT’s bread and butter. The Tar Heels are already 2-1 ATS.
Why Georgia Tech will cover: This will be the first real test for the Heels, and the Jackets can wear down a team. GT is an emphatic 3-0 ATS, winning games by 42, 38 and 42 points (spreads of 33.5, 13 and 14.5).
Points: The over is 3-0 in Tech games, but the under has struck in two of UNC’s three games and is 10-4 in the Heels’ last 14. This is the first true test for either team, which typically means less offense than usual, at least early on.
Central Michigan Chippewas at Michigan State Spartans (-24, 49.5)
Why Central Michigan will cover: Michigan State looked surprisingly poor at Notre Dame last week, so CMU may have found enough in film to hang in there early. CMU is 5-0 ATS in its last five games vs. the Big Ten.
Why Michigan State will cover: MSU has much to prove after last week’s loss at Notre Dame. The Chippewas have been underwhelming, even with their lowered expectations, 0-3 ATS. CMU is averaging just 16 ppg against poor competition. It will be hard-pressed to put up any more in East Lansing.
Points: MSU’s defense ranks in fourth in yards allowed and 16th in points allowed, and the under is 4-1 in the Spartans’ last five. It may not allow CMU to score enough to push the over, though the over is 5-1-1 in CMU’s last seven vs. the Big Ten.
San Diego State Aztecs at Michigan Wolverines (-10, 59.5)
Why San Diego State will cover: Michigan’s offense is still suspect. Stop QB Denard Robinson, and you stop the Wolverines. The Aztecs can grind it out, which can really help an underdog on the road.
Why Michigan will cover: The Wolverines are 2-1 ATS, with the miss by a half-point vs. Eastern Michigan (-28.5). Robinson, when on his game, is a defensive nightmare. And SDSU ranks 99th against the run. The Wolverines are 8-2 ATS in the last 10 non-conference games.
Points: Both defenses have bent but not broken. These two rushing offenses aren’t the types to shatter that.
Arkansas Razorbacks at Alabama Crimson Tide (-11.5, 50.5)
Why Arkansas will cover: The Razorbacks’ eighth-ranked pass offense keeps the team in games. The defense is much improved from recent seasons. Plus, the team is an impressive 10-1 ATS in its last 11 SEC games.
Why Alabama will cover: The Tide already rolled at Penn State. This will be the first true test and first road game for the Razorbacks. Alabama ranks in the top 10 in every defensive category.
Points: The over is 5-1 in Arkansas’ last six SEC games, while the under is 4-1 in Alabama’s last five.
Oklahoma State Cowboys at Texas A&M Aggies (-3.5, 69)
Why Oklahoma State will cover: OSU has steamrolled the competition, going 2-1 ATS with wins of 37 (-38), 23 (-14) and 26 (-13.5). The offense ranks No. 2 in yards and No. 3 in points. OSU is 6-0 in its last six road games.
Why Texas A&M will cover: OSU’s defense has been suspect in all facets, and the Aggies have clicked so far. That’s a favorable point spread for a College Station home game. A&M is 6-0 ATS in its last six Big 12 games.
Points: The under is 10-1 in OSU’s last 11 games as a road underdog. That’s a big total, but both teams are capable of going over it by the end of the third quarter.
Florida State Seminoles at Clemson Tigers (+1.5, 50.5)
Why Florida State will cover: The Seminoles competed with No. 1 Oklahoma before running out of gas in the fourth quarter. A stellar pass game (325 ypg) and a defense that ranks fifth in yards allowed is a tough combo for Clemson to handle, even at home.
Why Clemson will cover: Clemson proved it belonged after beating Auburn by 14. The offense has had no problem scoring. Meanwhile, FSU is banged up, with several key players listed as questionable, including QB E.J. Manuel (though he’ll likely play).
Points: The over is 4-0 in Clemson’s last four games. Both offenses are ranked high, and both defenses are suspect.
Virginia Tech Hokies at Marshall Thundering Herd (+21, 46)
Why Virginia Tech will cover: Tech’s defense ranks No. 8 in points and yards allowed. Marshall’s offense ranks No. 107 and No. 105 in those two categories. How is Marshall going to score? VT is 7-1 ATS in its last eight vs. teams with a losing record.
Why Marshall will cover: Marshall has been respectable against the run, which is VT’s strength. This is a marquee home game for the Herd and they’ll come out with everything they’ve got.
Points: Points could be at a premium, at least until VT opens things up in the second half. The under is 6-1 in Marshall’s last seven as a home underdog.
Florida Gators at Kentucky Wildcats (+19, 43)
Why Florida will cover: UK’s offense is among the worst in the nation while UF’s defense ranks in the top 10 in most major categories. Meanwhile, Florida has had no problems putting up points.
Why Kentucky will cover: In recent years, the Wildcats have stepped it up in the big SEC rivalry games. It’s a big spread for a SEC road team.
Points: UK will struggle to put a lot of points up, but Florida’s average of 37.7 ppg is going to come down, too. The over is 4-0 in UF’s last four as a road favorite, and is 6-0 in UK’s last six at home against a team with a winning record.
UTEP Miners at South Florida Bulls (-29. 47.5)
Why UTEP will cover: UTEP is 2-0 ATS against FCS competition. The Miners have put up yards but haven’t score much this season. They should eventually break through and put up points.
Why South Florida will cover: South Florida is 3-0 ATS, and that includes a 53-point win on a minus-41. The Bulls know how to put away lesser competition, so this game should be over by halftime.
Points: South Florida hasn’t been stopped yet. If UTEP can hold up its end by scoring two TDs, USF should do the rest.
Vanderbilt Commodores at South Carolina Gamecocks (-16.5, 52.5)
Why Vanderbilt will cover: Vandy is 3-0 ATS, including a 30-7 drubbing of Ole Miss last week. USC is just 1-2 and is one point off from being 0-3. Its defense has been key, which could hold down the score enough to at least cover.
Why South Carolina will cover: The Gamecocks haven’t put it all together for a game, yet won at Georgia and held on vs. Navy. The offense still ranks No. 16 in points. A complete game buries Vandy.
Points: Vandy’s been big on the under, while USC typically hits the over. Vandy’s solid defense vs. USC’s powerful offense will determine how close the game gets.
Rice Owls at Baylor Bears (-20, 66.5)
Why Rice will cover: The Owls haven’t looked great, but they did beat Purdue last week by blocking a last-second field goal.
Why Baylor will cover: Baylor’s offense has run wild so far, averaging 50 ppg in two games. Rice ranks near the bottom in every statistical category on both sides of the ball.
Points: That’s a big spread, especially when one of the teams (Rice) will struggle to score. The over is 8-2 in Baylor’s last 10.
Nebraska Cornhuskers at Wyoming Cowboys (+23.5, 57)
Why Nebraska will cover: The Huskers have been less than stellar, yet still average 44.2 ppg. If this is the game that the defense finally catches up, look out.
Why Wyoming will cover: Nebraska has been erratic at best, hence an 0-3 ATS mark. The Cowboys will be fired up getting the Huskers at home. An offense that ranks 37th in points should get its points against a defense that ranks in the bottom half in all facets.
Points: The over is 2-1 in both teams’ games so far. This line doesn’t look to change that trend.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Boise State Broncos (-32.5, 62)
Why Tulsa will cover: Just another game in Tulsa’s amazing non-conference schedule. It played Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and lost by 33 and 26. Still, the offense has put up some points. That’s a big spread and Tulsa is 6-1 ATS in its last seven on the road.
Why Boise State will cover: The Broncos finally get a home game after going 2-0 ATS at Georgia and Toledo and is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 in September. It’s time to have some fun, which means lots of scoring on the Smurf Turf.
Points: The scoreboard will be lighting up all night in Boise. The question is will Tulsa join in the fun?
Missouri Tigers at Oklahoma Sooners (-21.5, 56.5)
Why Missouri will cover: Statistically, the Tigers match up with OU, ranking in the top 25 in points for and against, and 10th and 11th in rushing yards for and against, respectively. To stay within three touchdowns isn’t out of the question.
Why Oklahoma will cover: The Sooners at 2-0 ATS thanks to a defense that has shut down opponents until the game is well decided. The offense has been solid but not yet spectacular.
Points: It’s the same mark as the Oklahoma-Florida State game (which hit 36). OU should put up bigger numbers, but Missouri needs to keep pace. The under is 5-1 in OU’s last six.
LSU Tigers at West Virginia Mountaineers (+5.5, 50.5)
Why LSU will cover: The Tigers have faced formidable obstacles this season already, and vanquished them all. LSU’s defense ranks No. 19 against the pass and No. 3 against the run. WVU can’t run and a one-dimensional offense isn’t going to score on the Tigers, who are 2-0 ATS.
Why West Virginia will cover: West Virginia throws long and scores big, so it’s never out of a game. A big night game typically favors the home crowd, and Morgantown will be rocking.
Points: LSU scores enough to win, which usually isn’t a lot. WVU may find the going tough, especially early on.
Oregon Ducks at Arizona Wildcats (+15. 64.5)
Why Oregon will cover: The Ducks average 50.7 ppg and can throw and run. Arizona ranks 111th in yards and pass yards allowed, and is 1-6 ATS in its last seven against teams with a winning record.
Why Arizona will cover: The Wildcats can’t run the ball effectively or play defense, but they can sling it, averaging 364 yards through the air.
Points: The under is 2-0 in Arizona’s last two and Oregon’s last two, but this has the makings of a high-scoring affair. The over is 4-1 in these team’s last five games.