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There are a lot of critics, especially those residing in the SEC, waiting for Oklahoma to slip up.
The Sooners may have speed, they may have depth and they may have a not-so-difficult road to the national title game. But for many, that doesn't matter. To them, Oklahoma is still Oklahoma, a traditional powerhouse that can't get it done at crunch time.
And with several slip-ups in the Bob Stoops Era, perhaps the Sooners are deserving of their so-so status. But maybe this year is different. Maybe this group sees what lies ahead, and knows it's all up to them to see where they finish. Maybe they'll use a BCS bowl win last season, and a consistent Top 5 rating this year, to fuel them to drive for more this season.
If you listen to Stoops, for one, he certainly believes this year could be different. It may only be October, but these players are not resting on their laurels.
Not at all.
“I feel good that we've made good progress. I feel good that the players aren't overly joyed about anything," Stoops said Saturday night, after Oklahoma drilled Ball State, 62-6. "They know there is more to come and they are anticipating that. They know we need to keep getting better in some areas. I feel they are in a good spot. They are always excited about this game, everybody is. So, they'll work hard this week to get ready for it.”
That’s a good attitude to have, because Texas is up this week in the Red River Rivalry. And even if they weren't both ranked, even if they weren't both undefeated, it'd be a huge game. But parlay those aspects with national championship implications, and you have the makings of an absolute dandy in Texas.
Las Vegas certainly believes that.
"Traditional game, neutral site, and always a lot of action on it,” said Pete Korner of Esportclub, LLC, in Las Vegas. “But when we sat down to look at it, based on a lot of factors, we had to give more credit to Oklahoma.”
Korner, whose line consultant group advises multiple Nevada sportsbooks, established the Sooners as 10-point favorites. The Wynn, always the first Vegas book to post college football odds, opened with the Longhorns getting 10.5 points.
"They’ve been really good, and they’re playing like they have more work ahead of them,” Korner said. “Texas is OK, but let’s face it: This is Oklahoma’s game. More on the line for them.”
And with that, let’s take a look at some of next week’s other marquee games. We’ll show the Wynn’s odds and give you Korner’s perspective.
Cal (+20.5) at Oregon
Oregon got bet up almost immediately from 20.5 to 23.5 at the Wynn. The Ducks have scored 181 points in their last three games and allowed just 58.
“We really thought Oregon had the talent to pick things up after a slow start,” Korner, who suggested Oregon -21, told Covers.com. “And they’re getting there. With this being a marquee game by itself on a Thursday night, this should end up being a blowout.”
Boise State (-19.5) at Fresno State
“You have to go high on Boise, especially on a Friday night, when nothing else is going on,” Korner, who recommended Broncos -23, said. “When they play in the middle of a Saturday, tucked in with everyone else? Differentstory. But when they can showcase themselves all by themselves in front of the nation, they usually get it done.”
Kentucky (+20.5) at South Carolina
“We’re not big on Kentucky at all,” Korner said. “We’re not in love with South Carolina, either, and in the SEC, they’ll probably lose some more games this year. But this is a win for them, and they have to roll this team.”
Florida at LSU
The Wynn didn’t post odds on this game because of the uncertain status of Gators starting QB John Brantley. Korner’s group sent out LSU -11 but sportsbooks could go with a bigger spread if Brantley’s a no-go.
“There are quarterback issues at Florida, so we kicked it up from the seven number we originally thought about,” Korner said. “LSU rolls here, I think, and so we needed to figure double digits on this one. I think it’s a fair number.”
Air Force (+11) at Notre Dame
Here’s another game that drew attention early from sharp bettors. The Wynn moved this number up to 15.5 without much hesitation.
“Notre Dame has such a dynamic offense, it just took them a little while to get going,” Korner, who recommended Air Force +12, said. “They’re playing well now, and every game is important for them now. We expect them to play well.”
Miami (+6) at Virginia Tech
Early bettors like the home favorite here. The Hokies are now 7.5-point chalk against the Hurricanes.
“Miami can win this one straight up, no question,” said Korner. “We went with just below a touchdown (6.5), but two or three weeks ago, this would have been in double digits. But Virginia Tech has certainly lost some of their invincibility factor.”
Iowa (+2) at Penn State
“Close game with a couple of nondescript Big Ten teams,” Korner said. “We had anywhere from a pick up to four. Anything could happen here.”
Auburn (+8) at Arkansas
This game opened with the Razorbacks giving 8 points but the line was quickly bet up to 10 in only a few hours.
“Auburn’s kind of doing alright, and we didn’t think that was going to be the case early on,” Korner said. “Home field counts here a lot. But it’s the SEC, so it could be close.”
Ohio State (+10) at Nebraska
“We’re not big on Ohio State, as they haven’t shown much. Name recognition is big here for both schools, but that’s about it,” Korner said. “With these two programs, you would think national title implications, conference title implications, stuff like that.
“That’s just not the case. But we like the fact that it’s at Nebraska, and even though didn’t impress last week, they’re playing Ohio State, and there’s just not that much there.”
After the first week of Big Ten conference play, the Big Ten Leaders division is doing just that, leading.
In cross-divisional games, teams from the Leaders Division, Illinois and Wisconsin picked up wins over Legends Northwestern and Nebraska while Michigan State of the Legends defeated Ohio State of the Leaders.
In terms of overall games, the divisions are pretty even. The Leaders (Illinois, Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue, Ohio State and Indiana) are 20-9 while the Legends (Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Minnesota) are 19-9.
A look at the Coaches Poll shows the Leaders with No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 16 Illinois ranked while the Legends boast three ranked teams with No. 11 Michigan, No. 15 Nebraska and No. 20 Michigan State, with Penn State also knocking on the door of the Top 25.
Dissecting the records and rankings may make things look close, but the true barometer of your division is how the favorites do, and Leaders favorite Wisconsin made the biggest statement on Saturday night against Legends favorite Nebraska.
Salt in the wound
Blowing a 28-10 third-quarter lead to No. 24 Illinois was not the worst thing that happened to Northwestern on Saturday. In the fourth quarter they blew a 35-31 lead with 1:15 to play. "Shocked," was what Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said of his team's second-half meltdown.
That was still not the worst thing to happen to the Wildcats. Northwestern's top running back, sophomore Mike Trumpy, tore his ACL during the third quarter on a non-contact injury and is done for the season. Trumpy averaged 5.2 yards per carry. He ranked second in rushing yards behind quarterback Kain Colter, but there was no mistaking that Trumpy was a legitimate weapon in the backfield.
Coach Pat Fitzgerald attempted to play down his loss. "I thought we ran the ball pretty well without him," Fitzgerald said. "Treyvon Green and Jacob Schmidt and Adonis (Smith) are coming on. So we have guys there that have been involved." Things won't be any easier this week for the Wildcats when they host No. 11 Michigan (5-0).
Not so fast
Ohio State was in desperate need of some offensive help and they were slated to get it just in time for their showdown Saturday night at No. 14 Nebraska. Last year's leading rusher Daniel Herron and top returning receiver DeVier Posey were supposed to return from their five-game suspension this weekend. But their suspensions for accepting cash and free tattoos were extended because they also accepted too much money for summer work.
The NCAA also suspended offensive lineman Marcus Hall for the first time. None of that will make things easier on freshman quarterback Braxton Miller, who is scheduled to get the start in Lincoln.
"Braxton (Miller) is still the starter," former starter redshirt senior Joe Bauserman said. Bauserman, the starter for the first three games of the season, accounted for Ohio State's only touchdown in a 10-7 loss at the Horseshoe on Saturday. But Ohio State coach Luke Fickell remains behind Miller despite the freshman only connecting on 5-of-10 passes for 56 yards and an interception. He also finished with minus-27 yards rushing
"Things were happening fast for him," Fickell said of his quarterback. "I think maybe he didn't see the field real well."
Miller was more blunt. "Welcome to the Big Ten, Michigan State has one of the best defenses around," the quarterback said. Nebraska is a 10.5-point favorite on Saturday.
Michigan's thorough 58-0 dismantling of Minnesota was enough to impress the pollsters, who vaulted the Wolverines from No. 19 to No. 11 in the Coaches Poll and from No. 19 to No. 12 in the AP Poll.
The Michigan locker room remains unimpressed. "Ranking doesn’t mean anything to us," senior defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen said. "We definitely don’t think we've played up to the potential of being a No. 12 team in the country."
Coach Brady Hoke voted his Wolverines into the Top 25 for the first time this season on his coaches ballot, although, from the sound of things, he didn’t have them anywhere near the Top 10.
We're not playing the football that we need to play. We're not playing well enough," Hoke said. We're not finishing things well enough."
There might be a reason the Wolverines want to downplay this ranking. Last time the school was ranked this high was in 2007 when they were pegged as No. 5 in the preseason poll. They opened that season against Appalachian State and we all know what happened then.
Russell Wilson's 287 yards of total offense and three scores received a lot of the headlines after Wisconsin's 48-17 pasting of Nebraska, but a lot of credit needs to go to linebacker Mike Taylor as well. The junior linebacker recorded a career-high 14 tackles and picked off a Taylor Martinez pass.
As a unit it seems the Badger defense is undervalued. They rank 10th in the country in total yards allowed (264 yards per game) and fourth in points allowed per game (10.2 points per game). Those numbers should only improve this week when 1-4 Indiana comes to town.
Against the number
Wisconsin is one of only four teams in the country with a perfect record against the spread. The Badgers (4-0-1 ATS) along with Rutgers (4-0 ATS), Stanford (4-0 ATS) and Georgia Tech (4-0-1 ATS) have been a bettor’s best friend this season. On the flip side of that, Penn State is the only team in the country to go 0-5 ATS and believe it or not, the only team in the country to go 0-5 on over bets. Somehow the Nittany Lions are 4-1 SU.
When you look at the depth chart, the statistics, the staff, the scores, it's easy to see why Alabama is unbeaten, unblemished and just a few votes away from being the No. 1 team in the country.
With robotic coach Nick Saban leading the way, the Crimson Tide tackle every task with the same ferocity, whether it's the film room, the weight room or the field of play.
But if you ask Saban what separates Alabama, it's the way the Crimson Tide close. Indeed, Alabama can finish in the fourth quarter, and that is music to bettors' ears, isn't it?
"It's a part of the philosophy of the program since we've been here. We want to win in the fourth quarter," Saban said. "We try to get our players to believe that the hard work they do is going to contribute to their ability to be more physical for longer, and to finish games better, and that's something that we try to build as a part of the program."
Against Florida last week, a 38-10 victory, Alabama won the fourth quarter, 14-0. Against Arkansas the week before, a 38-14 win, Alabama didn't score, but milked the clock, kept the Razorbacks off the board, and cruised to the clubhouse.
"Commitment, discipline, toughness, pride, work," Saban said. "All of those things are really important to being able to win in the fourth quarter. We are trying to sell our players on that."
So far, so good. Alabama (5-0) has outscored the competition, 192-42, and is 4-1 against the spread.
There is much debate as to who is the SEC’s best, be it Alabama or LSU. We won't truly know that answer until Nov. 5, when the two teams collide in Baton Rouge.
Until then, let's have some fun with the projected BCS national championship game. And since we dreamt up an LSU-Oklahoma matchup last week, let's try an Alabama-Oklahoma title tilt this week.
Oklahoma (4-0, 3-1 ATS) is not without critics. The Sooners' two biggest wins - over Florida State and Missouri - don't look so hot now that both of those opponents appear to have been overhyped.
But they have an easy road to the title game, and they returned to the kind of offensive numbers that were expected of them in a 62-6 win over Ball State last week.
Texas is on deck, but honestly, the road is clear for the Sooners ... like them or not.
But that doesn't mean Las Vegas would favor them in a title-game scenario. Certainly not against Alabama.
"The SEC has proven over the last few years they are the best," Jay Kornegay, the race and sportsbook director at the Las Vegas Hilton told Covers.com. "And this year shouldn't be any different."
If the season ended today, with this matchup on tap, Kornegay would install Alabama as a 3-point favorite. And that, considering the SEC's power, precision and past history, would probably be bet up rather quickly.
And with that, let's take a look at the other BCS projections and pointspreads with help from Kornegay:
ROSE BOWL, JAN. 2
Stanford (+3) vs. Wisconsin
Boy, did the Badgers take advantage of the national spotlight last week vs. Nebraska. Quarterback Russell Wilson adds such a new dimension to the Wisconsin offense, it's truly like seeing a different program out there, at times.
Of course, Stanford has a pretty good quarterback, too. Think there will be a few NFL scouts on hand in Pasadena, as Andrew Luck closes out his college career?
As good as he is, though, Las Vegas is still leaning toward the Big Ten.
"Stanford hasn't played anyone so far," Kornegay said, "and they are just not proven."
FIESTA BOWL, JAN. 2
Oklahoma State (+3.5) vs. Oregon
Get the scoreboard light bulbs ready, because you may need some extras. The explosive Cowboys and dynamic Ducks could ring in the new year with tons of touchdowns and give the Fiesta Bowl a decidedly different look from the lopsided Oklahoma-UConn game last year.
Pretty even rosters, and not a lot of difference between the two as of now. But let's face it, Oregon has been here before, as this would be a third straight BCS appearance.
"Track meet," Kornegay said. "It's like the 60-meter dash. The first to 60 points wins."
SUGAR BOWL, JAN. 3
Boise State (+7) vs. LSU
If the Tigers don't get by Alabama, and don't win the SEC, they'll still have a chance here to play near home in a big game against a big opponent.
The Broncos travel well, and are used to the bright lights. But the Bayou Bengals in their homestate might be a little too much, no matter what jazzed-up uniforms Boise State brings with them.
"The SEC -- again -- is proven," Kornegay said. "Boise State is winning. But they don’t have any speed on offense and that will show up against a top opponent. And I'm not talking about Georgia."
ORANGE BOWL, JAN. 4
West Virginia (+3) vs. Clemson
The Tigers are the flavor of the month in the ACC, yes, but you can't deny wins over Florida State and Virginia Tech. Perhaps the Seminoles and Hokies were overrated to begin with, but Clemson took care of business either way, and clearly has the inside track in a bad league.
Speaking of bad leagues, West Virginia has discovered a bit of a running game, and that might be enough to win the Big East. There are potential pitfalls ahead of the Mountaineers, but they should be able to make it to a Dec. 2 date vs. South Florida, with a shot at the league crown.
"Two programs going in the right direction," Kornegay said. "Clemson is a pleasant surprise and has impressed us the most out of these two teams. Clemson also has a lot of team speed that would create issues in this matchup."
California Golden Bears at Oregon Ducks (-23.5, 64)
THE STORY: Since falling to now-No. 2 LSU in the season-opener and dropping to No. 14 in the rankings, Oregon has slowly climbed its way back into the Top 10 with three consecutive blowout victories. The ninth-ranked Ducks have scored at least 56 points in wins over Nevada, Missouri State and Arizona and now rank first in the nation in scoring offense at 52 points per game. Oregon ranked first in that category last year, too, but California held the Ducks to season lows in points, total yards and first downs in a 15-13 Oregon victory.
California coach Jeff Tedford was Oregon’s offensive coordinator for four seasons before taking over the Golden Bears’ program in 2002. Cal leads the all-time series 39-32-2, but Oregon has won 10 of the past 15 meetings.
LINE MOVES: Oregon opened as high as -24 and had been bet down slightly at some books. The total opened as low as 63 and was bet up to 64.5 before coming back down half a point.
WEATHER: There is a 16 percent chance of rain for Pleasant Hill Thursday. Game-time temperatures will dip into the high 40s.
ABOUT CALIFORNIA (3-1, 0-1 Pac-12, 2-2 ATS): As high-powered as Oregon is offensively, the Bears haven’t been bad themselves, ranking 15th in the country with 39.5 points per game. After starting the season 3-0, Cal missed a chance at its first 4-0 start since 2007 with a 31-23 loss at Washington last week. The Bears rank ninth nationally with only 78.3 rushing yards allowed per game, but they haven’t faced a rushing offense that currently is higher than 58th in the country, so they’re in for quite a challenge trying to stop LaMichael James and Oregon’s spread-option attack. Cal quarterback Zach Maynard — a transfer from Buffalo — has 10 passing touchdowns already after throwing for just 18 in his final season with the Bulls.
ABOUT OREGON (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12, 2-2 ATS): The Ducks have been flat-out dominate at Autzen Stadium since 2008, averaging 49.5 points per game in an 18-game home winning streak. Their last home loss was a 37-32 setback against Boise State on Sept. 20, 2008. James — the nation’s leading rusher in 2010 — claimed the top spot again this week after a record-setting 288-yard effort at Arizona last weekend. Quarterback Darron Thomas threw two touchdowns in the Ducks’ 56-31 win against the Wildcats, making it 17 consecutive games he’s thrown for at least one score. Oregon has won 13 straight conference games since a loss at Stanford in November 2009.
1. Oregon leads the nation with only one sack allowed through four games, while Cal’s defense is ninth nationally with 3.25 sacks per game.
2. Eight of the last 11 games in this series have been decided by 10 points or less.
3. This is the first of three weeknight games this season for Cal, which played only three total weeknight games in Tedford’s first nine years in Berkeley.
* Under is 5-0 in the last five meetings in Oregon.
* Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Home team is 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Golden Bears are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings
Hilltoppers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games.
Hilltoppers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a road underdog.
Hilltoppers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 conference games.
Hilltoppers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games as an underdog.
Hilltoppers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog of 10.5 or greater.
Hilltoppers are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 games as a road underdog of 10.5 or greater.
Hilltoppers are 7-3 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
Hilltoppers are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games in October.
Hilltoppers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
Hilltoppers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games on turf.
Middle Tennessee State
Blue Raiders are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
Blue Raiders are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 conference games.
Blue Raiders are 20-9-1 ATS in their last 30 games following a S.U. win.
Blue Raiders are 2-5 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.
Blue Raiders are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games as a home favorite.
Blue Raiders are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 home games.
Blue Raiders are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Thursday games.
Blue Raiders are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games as a favorite.
Under is 5-1 in Hilltoppers last 6 games as an underdog of 10.5 or greater.
Under is 5-1 in Hilltoppers last 6 conference games.
Under is 4-1 in Hilltoppers last 5 games as an underdog.
Under is 10-4 in Hilltoppers last 14 games following a ATS win.
Middle Tennessee State
Over is 6-0-1 in Blue Raiders last 7 games overall.
Over is 3-0-1 in Blue Raiders last 4 games following a S.U. win.
Over is 4-0 in Blue Raiders last 4 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
Over is 4-0 in Blue Raiders last 4 games on turf.
Under is 4-1 in Blue Raiders last 5 games in October.
Under is 6-2 in Blue Raiders last 8 games following a ATS loss.
Over is 9-4 in Blue Raiders last 13 games as a favorite of 10.5 or greater.
This one gave oddsmakers fits, as it features two SEC team that both seem to be trending upward. The difficulty was in determining which was most likely to see its momentum halted. Noting how close these teams are, Avello predicted the outcome could be determined by turnovers.
After starting the season with two losses, Georgia’s Save Mark Richt Tour has been a success thus far. Although quarterback Aaron Murray still struggles with turnovers, the Bulldogs’ defense has given up just 23 points total in consecutive wins over Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
Tennessee’s rebuilding project is coming along nicely under second-year coach Derek Dooley, thanks in large part to the budding star it has found in quarterback Tyler Bray. He has thrown for 14 touchdowns against just two interceptions. The Vols also have the revenge factor on their side after taking a 41-14 thumping in Athens last season.
“This was a really tough line,” Avello told Covers.com. “I opened up at Georgia -2 and the first bet was on Georgia, but everything else has been on Tennessee. “This one has been all over the place … I thought about Georgia -1, then Tennessee -1. I could see the game going either way.”
Missouri at Kansas State (+3)
This one similarly gave oddsmakers some problems. The unheralded and undefeated Wildcats are riding high after consecutive upset wins over Miami and Baylor, but have long had trouble against traditional rival Missouri.
The Tigers have won five straight in the series, and the road team in this matchup has covered in four straight. Moreover, Missouri had an extra week to prepare following its loss to Oklahoma two weeks ago.
“This is another one that I struggled with,” Avello said. “Kansas State is 4-0 and appears to be coming around, but they have had their struggles with Missouri. That week off for Missouri really helps.
East Carolina Pirates at Houston Cougars -12.5 to -9.5 (line history)
Houston owns one of the best offenses in the country but its defense is responsible for handing opponents a few backdoor covers.
“It’s been all sharp play,” Scucci said. “The public is doing well with big favorites the past few weeks. As oddsmakers, we have to account for that. The wiseguys see the value and they’re grabbing the underdog.”
Colorado Buffaloes at Stanford Cardinal -27 to -29.5 (line history)
The Cardinal are rewarding their backers with big ATS wins every week. Future first round pick Andrew Luck leads an offense that seems able to cover whatever line oddsmakers throw out.
“We don’t know how high to go on Stanford,” Scucci said. “We’re just going to keep adjusting until they don’t cover. Until then, we’ll just keep pushing the number as high as possible.”
Stanford is outscoring opponents 183-46 this season and is 9-0-1 ATS in its last 10 games.
California Golden Bears at Oregon Ducks (-23.5, 62)
Why Cal will cover: The Bears have put up points (39.5 ppg, 12th) and can stuff the run. They can keep up offensively, as long as the defense makes a few stops.
Why Oregon will cover: The Ducks have the nation’s most explosive offense, averaging 52 ppg. Cal’s defense hasn’t faced anything like Oregon. The Ducks are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 following bye weeks.
Points: The over is 3-1 in both teams’ games, and there’s not enough defense to think this will be a low-scoring affair.
Boise State Broncos at Fresno State Bulldogs (+20.5, 58.5)
Why Boise State will cover: The Broncos’ points differential is 20 ppg. Boise State is 2-0 ATS on the road, busting the likes of Georgia and Toledo.
Why Fresno State will cover: The Bulldogs have faced Cal, Nebraska and Ole Miss, so they’re battle-ready. They haven’t lost by more than 15 yet.
Points: The under is 8-1-1 in BSU’s last 10 games, but the over is 4-1 for Fresno this season.
Maryland Terrapins at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-15.5, 63.5)
Why Maryland will cover: The Terrapins should be able to score and everyone has scored at least 21 on the Jackets.
Why Georgia Tech will cover: Tech averages 378 yards rushing per game, tops in the nation. Maryland ranks 90th against the run. GT is 4-0-1 ATS, Maryland is 1-3.
Points: The over is 5-0 in Jackets games, and the Terps’ offense should get in the end zone a couple times.
Connecticut Huskies at West Virginia Mountaineers (-19.5, 53.5)
Why Connecticut will cover: The Huskies have been wildly disappointing (1-4 ATS). That said, those losses have come by seven points or fewer. Maybe this is the week they break out of the funk.
Why West Virginia will cover: The Mountaineers can throw the ball with the best of them, while pass defense is UConn’s big weakness. At home, this game could be over by halftime.
Points: The over is 4-1 in WVU games, and 1-4 in UConn games.
Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns (+9.5, 58.5)
Why Oklahoma will cover: OU’s offense ranks fifth in yards and 11th in points, The Sooners are 6-2 ATS in its last eight against teams with winning records. Texas is 6-13 ATS in its last 19 overall.
Why Texas will cover: Texas is on a roll, blowing out UCLA and Iowa State on the road. OU’s defense has bent (40th in yards allowed) but not been broken (14th in points allowed). Maybe the Horns have the offense to break through.
Points: While both teams are 2-0 on the over in their last two, each has defenses that are tough to score on.
Kentucky Wildcats at South Carolina Gamecocks (-19, 44)
Why Kentucky will cover: The offense has been horrible, but the defense has kept most opponents in check, especially against the pass (11th, 163.6).
Why South Carolina will cover: USC’s defense ranks No. 3 against the pass (150.8 ypg), so how is UK going to score more than seven points? The Gamecocks, coming off a 16-13 loss to Auburn, have something to prove and the firepower to make it ugly.
Points: The under is 3-0 in USC’s last three and 3-1-1 for UK this season.
Florida State Seminoles at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (+13, 49.5)
Why Florida State will cover: After losing close games to Oklahoma and at Clemson, the Seminoles should overwhelm Wake in terms of speed and talent. The defense, which ranks in the top 25 in every major category, will make it rough on the Deacons.
Why Wake Forest will cover: Wake is 3-0 ATS in its last three games, while FSU is 0-3 ATS, and the dog is 6-1 in the last seven meetings. Wake is averaging over 100 yards more than its opponents, and while that’s unlikely to happen here, keeping the game close is not out of the question.
Points: This game could be a shootout or a one-sided blowout.
Illinois Fighting Illini at Indiana Hoosiers (+16, 52.5)
Why Illinois will cover: Indiana is 22nd in rushing yards (209.8), while IU is 97th at stopping the run. Indiana’s offense hasn’t shown much. Once Illinois gets ahead, it will keep running until it hits the end zone.
Why Indiana will cover: Illinois finds ways to win, but not ways to cover, with its last three victories each by three points. IU hung with Penn State and all four losses have been by seven points or less.
Points: The over is 2-3 for both teams, and this number is a little high for these teams.
Boston College Eagles at Clemson Tigers (-22, 54)
Why Boston College will cover: The Eagles have struggled, but have not faced a spread this large. They make games low-scoring, which bodes well for a spread of more than three TDs.
Why Clemson will cover: Few teams have been as impressive as Clemson. If the focus is there, the Tigers should dominate. They’re 4-1 ATS, while the Eagles are 1-4.
Points: Despite the 4-1 over start for Clemson, the under is 8-1 in its last nine ACC games, and is 19-7 in BC’s last 27 overall.
Arizona State Sun Devils at Utah Utes (+3, 48.5)
Why Arizona State will cover: ASU ranks 28th in passing and Utah is 91st against the pass. The Devils dismantled USC by 21 points, while Utah lost to the Trojans by nine.
Why Utah will cover: While Utah is just 1-3 ATS, ASU is only 1-4. The Devils have played just one road game, and they lost (at Illinois).
Points: The over is 4-1 for ASU, but is 1-3 for Utah. Both teams have had defenses that keep scores down.
Miami Hurricanes at Virginia Tech Hokies (-7.5, 44.5)
Why Miami will cover: The Hokies have proven vulnerable, even at home. The best is yet to come from the Canes, who rank 28th in points allowed.
Why Virginia Tech will cover: Both teams like to run the ball, the difference being VT is No. 2 at stopping the run, while Miami is 105th. VT has something to show after last week’s home blowout loss to Clemson.
Points: The under has hit in VT’s last four games and is 2-2 for Miami overall. The under is also 8-1 in the last nine meetings.
Florida Gators at LSU Tigers (-13.5, 41.5)
Why Florida will cover: That’s a good-sized spread for a team that can score on any play. And the defense ranks in the Top 20 in every major category. UF is 15-5 ATS in its last 20 road games.
Why LSU will cover: Florida was exposed by an Alabama team that is similar to LSU’s. The Tigers’ defense ranks No. 9 in yards and points allowed and No. 3 in rush yards allowed. The offense isn’t bad either, averaging 38 ppg (19th).
Points: Both defense typically shut down foes, though the over has hit in Florida’s last three.
Kansas Jayhawks at Oklahoma State Cowboys (-33, 71)
Why Kansas will cover: Kansas averages more than 200 yards passing and rushing per game. OSU’s defense isn’t good at stopping either.
Why Oklahoma State will cover: The Cowboys average 46.8 ppg, and the Jayhawks’ defense is dead last in the nation in points allowed (44.2). But those two stats together, and …
Points: The over is 4-0 in KU games, 2-2 for OSU, and neither defense has shown the ability to stop anything.
Missouri Tigers at Kansas State Wildcats (+3, 55.5)
Why Missouri will cover: Missouri can run the ball and stop the run. It struggled to stop the pass, but the Wildcats can’t throw. Mizzou can. The Tigers are 3-0 ATS in their last three.
Why Kansas State will cover: A Top-25 team at home, an underdog against an unranked opponent? There’s never been better blackboard material. K-State is just as adept at running and slowing the run.
Points: Missouri’s last three games and K-State’s last two have hit the over.
Auburn Tigers at Arkansas Razorbacks (-10, 63)
Why Auburn will cover: The Tigers can run the ball (36th), while the Razorbacks struggle to stop it (109th). Auburn is 11-1 ATS in its last 12 SEC games. Auburn was plus-10.5 last week at South Carolina and won SU.
Why Arkansas will cover: The team throws 350 yards per game and has beaten down better defensive backfields this season. The defense ranks 75th in yards allowed, but only gives up 22.8 ppg (48th). The team is 8-1 ATS in its last nine games as a favorite and last nine home games.
Points: Neither defense has what it takes to consistently stop the other team’s offense.
Texas A&M Aggies at Texas Tech Red Raiders (+6.5, 70)
Why Texas A&M will cover: The Aggies’ offense ranks among the top 25 nationally in every way. Teams can’t run on Texas A&M, and if the Aggies can take a lead, they can pull away.
Why Texas Tech will cover: Tech can and will throw the ball (9th, 345.5 ypg), while Texas A&M is the worst team in the nation at stopping the pass. Tech is 3-1 ATS.
Points: The over is 3-1 in Tech games. Both offenses should have field days.
Michigan Wolverines at Northwestern Wildcats (+3.5 59.5)
Why Michigan will cover: The Wolverines are 4-1 ATS because their defense has been better than expected, holding four opponents to single digits. The offense ranks No. 7 in rushing, while Northwestern’s defense is 89th at stopping the run.
Why Northwestern will cover: The Wildcats’ offense has looked spectacular at times, but inconsistent.
Points: The over is 8-2 in Northwestern’s last 10 home games and in its last 10 as a dog.
Vanderbilt Commodores at Alabama Crimson Tide (-29, 41.5)
Why Vanderbilt will cover: The Commodores don’t score much but their defense is very solid, ranking in the top 25 against the run and pass.
Why Alabama will cover: Despite typically being big favorites, Bama is 10-3 ATS in its last 13 at home. Vandy is 1-7 in its last eight SEC games. The defense ranks No. 1 against the run (39.6 ypg) and in points allowed (8.4), is No. 5 against the pass (152). How is Vandy going to move the ball … at all?
Points: The Tide may have to do all the scoring to hit the over, though they’ve scored 38 or more in four of their five games.
Colorado Buffaloes at Stanford Cardinal (-27, 57.5)
Why Colorado will cover: If Stanford has a weakness, it’s passing defense (86th), which matches up with Colorado’s strength of throwing the ball (36th).
Why Stanford will cover: It’s all clicking right now for Stanford, 4-0 ATS, with an offense that ranks No. 7 in points (45.8) and a defense that’s No. 6 in scoring (11.5). The team averages 34.3-point margin of victory, and Stanford has blown out better opponents on the road.
Points: Nobody’s slowed Stanford yet, and if Colorado can score some second-half scores against a lax Cardinal secondary, anything is possible.
Ohio State Buckeyes at Nebraska Cornhuskers (-11, 43.5)
Why Ohio State will cover: The Buckeyes’ offense is atrocious, but the defense can hold down teams. That’s a decent spread for a team that allows just 14.6 ppg (11th).
Why Nebraska will cover: Despite the embarrassing performance at Wisconsin, Nebraska can score, ranking No. 22 points and No. 9 in rushing.
Points: The under is 8-1 in OSU’s last nine and 14-6 in Nebraska’s last 20 at home.