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Green Sheet Issue #2

Our second Green Sheet issue dives into the 2019 NFL schedule with nearly 3,000 words of analysis plus schedule numbers and rankings in seven categories for all 32 NFL teams.

Find out great nuggets from the schedule analysis: One team has a 30-44 S/U since 2000 scenario on the schedule and that squad is likely to be a favorite in that game. Three teams fall into a win total valuation situation that is 4-1 the past two years including pegging major collapses from the Jaguars and 49ers last season – teams that fell short of the summer win total numbers by 4.5 games! There is one team that fits a scheduling role that has produced teams combining to go 56-39-1 the past two years. Another simple schedule formula has produced the ‘over’ in five of six win totals the past two seasons and four squads apply in 2019. Find out those teams and more in Green Sheet Issue #2.

This is just a four-page issue and as such is only $6 instead of the regular $12 price – sign up right here!

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2019-20 Green Sheet #1

We have released a short off-season issue of the Green Sheet that includes the 2019 NFL Schedule Grid plus a coaching reference sheet to hang on to for the upcoming NFL season.

If you are not already signed up for the Green Sheet now is a great time to get on board as we plan to have several more off-season issues before the weekly subscription begins in late July.

Check out the first issue here – and save $10 on the full season subscription if you sign-up by May 10 using the COUPON CODE: MAY10

A $150 savings on the Nelly’s Full Season Phone Service for the 2019-20 football season expires on May 1 and a $100 discount will expire on June 1 – the phone service includes the full Green Sheet subscription as well.

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Free NFL Pick Sunday

#120 Cleveland Browns -10 over Cincinnati Bengals 12:00 PM CT

The big play offense for the Browns that has been in good form in the past month stalled last Saturday in Denver but the run defense stepped up for a big road win. Denver still had a lot at stake in that game and the Broncos still possess great defensive talent. Now 6-7-1 the Browns are a threat to finish with a winning record for just the third time since the franchise was brought back in 1999. Cincinnati is on the road the final two weeks in a lost season that started with great promise.

This is a recent rematch as Cleveland led 28-0 early in Cincinnati in Week 12 in the game where Andy Dalton’s season ended. Cincinnati has won the past four meetings in Cleveland with the Browns scoring a combined 20 points in those games but Cleveland has clearly turned the page and will likely emerge as one of the AFC favorites next summer. Jeff Driskel has looked capable leading the Cincinnati offense in recent weeks but this will be a tougher assignment and he will be without Tyler Boyd and a few other key players on offense. Conditions are favorable for late December in Cleveland and the biggest favorite price on the Browns in many years is justified.

Nelly’s is 5-1 in the NFL the past two Sundays and on a 19-10 run. Our NFL 2/3 has won five of the last six weeks and we have gone 3-0 three times since Week 7. We went 2-0 in bowl picks Saturday and 3-0 in basketball picks, now on a 19-5 basketball run including 11 straight NBA wins. Don’t miss football and basketball offers Sunday!

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 14

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 14

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week from Championship weekend in college football. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

Northern Illinois (+3½) 30, Buffalo 29: The Bulls led 22-10 at halftime and scored a touchdown to open the second half for a 19-point edge. The Huskies made some great defensive adjustments as Buffalo would pick up a net total of seven yards over its next five possessions. A marginal punt handed Northern Illinois good field position and late in the third quarter the Huskies closed the gap back to 12 points. After another 3-and-out for the Bulls, Northern Illinois needed only four plays to score again to cut the deficit to just five points with most of the fourth quarter still to play. After forcing two more Buffalo punts, the Huskies had the ball back at their own 30-yard-line with just over three minutes to go. Without great resistance Northern Illinois got the go-ahead score in eight plays, connecting for a 35-yard catch with just over a minute to go. Up one, Northern Illinois went for two and fell short leaving backers of the slight favorite still with hope for a late touchdown to get past the number. Buffalo would cross midfield thanks to a pass interference call but wound up ending the game with four straight incomplete passes.

UAB (+1) 27, Middle Tennessee State 25: UAB scored three touchdowns in the span of four minutes in the second quarter but Middle Tennessee State had a chance to tie the game in the third quarter, failing on a two-point conversion attempt to sit behind 24-22 heading into the fourth quarter. The Blue Raiders would take the lead on a field goal with about 10 minutes remaining but after an exchange of punts that put UAB at midfield, the Blazers did enough for the go-ahead field goal with just over three minutes to go to lead by two on a spread that fell from +3 to just +1 by kickoff. Middle Tennessee State crossed midfield in the final two minutes but ended its threat with three straight incomplete passes.

UCF (-1) 56, Memphis 41: The spread on this game opened at -4½ and fell to just -1 by kickoff with the injury to McKenzie Milton putting the UCF winning streak in jeopardy. Memphis had a 24-7 lead in the first quarter and led 38-21 at halftime. As they did in the regular season meeting, UCF battled back in the second half and cut the margin to just six points by the start of the fourth quarter. The Knights took a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter and Milton’s replacement Darriel Mack would wind up with three fourth quarter touchdowns as the Knights pulled away for a second straight AAC title and will head to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

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Oklahoma (-9½) 39, Texas 27: For very little of this game Oklahoma appeared in position to cover a spread that climbed from -7½ to -9½ as they led 20-14 at the half after overcoming an early deficit and the game was tied 27-27 through three quarters after the Sooners blocked a PAT on a late third quarter Longhorns touchdown. That kept overtime as a serious possibility but that changed when Oklahoma got a safety after hitting an early fourth quarter field goal. Texas was pinned deep following a fumble that thwarted a Sooners scoring opportunity but a blitz put Sam Ehlinger down in the end zone for a five-point edge for Oklahoma. Getting the ball right back Oklahoma converted three third downs and scored with two minutes to go for a 12-point edge to slip past the favorite spread. Texas looked like they would get back within the number with a new set of downs inside the 20 in the final minute but an interception sealed the win and cover for the Big XII championship for Oklahoma.

Fresno State (+1) 19, Boise State 16: The Bulldogs didn’t have much production in Boise Saturday night looking to avenge a tight loss in last season’s conference championship game as well as a regular season defeat this season. Fresno State managed field goals in the two middle quarters for a 13-7 edge but Boise State would complete an 87-yard touchdown drive with about eight minutes to go to the tie the game. The PAT was blocked as Boise State failed to go in front for what would have been a one-point win to match the closing spread on the game with the Bulldogs even briefly favored at some outlets late in the week. Neither squad posed much of a threat to score on late game possessions in regulation as overtime was needed. Boise State stalled inside the 10-yard-line and settled for a 23-yard field goal going first. Fresno State hit two big gains early and then on the second try from the one-yard-line rushed into the end zone for the win.

Clemson (-28) 42, Pittsburgh 10: The statistics suggested a blowout but this was a 14-10 game early before Clemson scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes before halftime. That 18-point edge was well short of the four-touchdown spread and Pittsburgh held Clemson off the scoreboard in the third quarter. Early in the fourth the Tigers put the game away with another touchdown but still seemed unlikely to slip past the favorite spread until Pittsburgh fumbled at the Clemson 30-yard-line with six minutes to go. Clemson broke a 31-yard run on second down and then a 28-yard run a few plays later, eventually putting the result-flipping touchdown on the board with just over three minutes to go.

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Ohio State (-16½) 45, Northwestern 24: Ohio State took advantage of a few big plays for a 24-7 edge at the break, just past the favorite spread in Indianapolis. Northwestern battled back in the third quarter with two touchdown drives as the heavy underdog sat within three with the ball back. An interception halted that momentum but Ohio State didn’t add points until late in the third quarter for a 10-point edge. Early in the fourth Ohio State missed a field goal and Northwestern succeeded on a kick to get within seven and two scores within the underdog spread. A broken coverage allowed Ohio State a 63-yard pass to set-up a Buckeyes touchdown for a 14-point edge with nine minutes remaining. Northwestern crossed midfield but eventually had to go for it on 4th down and came up short, allowing Ohio State to play with a short field and the Buckeyes added a late score for a 21-point edge in the final minutes. Northwestern was sacked twice on its final possession and ultimately opted to punt facing 4th-and-19 as Ohio State was able to win and cover despite being soundly out-rushed and only leading by a single-score much of the second half.

South Carolina (-28) 28, Akron 3: In rainy conditions South Carolina had a 28-3 edge at halftime with the help of a defensive touchdown that followed-up a red zone interception. The Gamecocks had turnovers on three consecutive possessions at one point in the second half while Akron was stopped on downs in South Carolina territory twice while having another fumble near midfield. Ultimately neither team added points and Akron held on to the narrow underdog cover with the scoreless second half in a game with seven turnovers and minimal offensive production on both sides.

Stanford (-3) 23, California 13: Down 13-6 at halftime California dominated the second half of this rivalry game as Stanford had 34 net yards on its first four possessions after halftime. Cal meanwhile had an empty drive into Stanford territory, an interception in the end zone, and a missed 34-yard field goal. The Cardinal would go up two scores after the four-minute mark in the fourth quarter and the Bears would wind up with another interception that with a long return put Stanford at the three-yard-line. The Cardinal scored to go up by 17 before allowing a late touchdown to the Bears in the final minute.

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MAC Championship Preview

MAC CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

Championship weekend kicks off in Detroit with the MAC Championship Game Friday night in Detroit. Northern Illinois has now represented the West in seven of the last nine title games while this is just the second appearance for Buffalo. Here is a look at Friday’s closely-lined championship game in the MAC.

 

Match-up: Northern Illinois Huskies at Buffalo Bulls  

Venue: At Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan

Time/TV: Friday, November 30, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2

Line: Buffalo -3, Over/Under 49

Last Meeting: 2017, at Northern Illinois (-8) 14, Buffalo 13

 

Buffalo has been the prominent MAC team all season since starting the year 4-0 with notable wins at Temple and at Rutgers. The Bulls started 6-0 in conference play to take a commanding lead in the East but slipped up at Ohio in mid-November before clinching the division title last weekend. At 10-2, it has been the best season record-wise in Buffalo history already and the Bulls will have two more opportunities to add to the win count.

 

This if the fourth season for Lance Leipold who won six Division III championships in eight years at Wisconsin-Whitewater and figures to be a candidate to be interviewed for major conference positions in the near future. Buffalo went 5-7 and 2-10 in his first two seasons before reaching 6-6 last year without getting a bowl invite.

 

Rod Carey took over Northern Illinois for the Orange Bowl at the end of the 2012 season after Dave Doeren was hired at NC State. In six-plus seasons he is 51-29 with the Huskies finishing in the top three in the West every season while this will be his fourth MAC title game, going 1-2 in three straight appearances from 2013 to 2015. A bowl win has eluded Carey, winless in five tries but the program has been a consistent force in the conference.  

 

The Dollar General Bowl in Mobile vs. a Sun Belt team has been the typical landing spot for the MAC Champion though there are not true ranked bowl tie-ins for the MAC. The Camellia, Famous Idaho Potato, Frisco, and Bahamas Bowls are also tied to the MAC with the conference featuring seven bowl-eligible teams including six that are at least 7-5 this year.

 

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West champion Northern Illinois is just 7-5 but the Huskies lost non-conference games to Iowa, Utah, and Florida State, while beating BYU for one of the nation’s most difficult non-conference schedules. The Huskies held this spot despite losing its final two MAC games to slide to 6-2 in league play, falling in single-score games hosting Miami and at Western Michigan in the final two weeks.

 

Northern Illinois has the top scoring defense in the MAC, allowing just 19.8 points per game while Buffalo was one of the conference’s top offensive teams, posting 35.5 points per game in conference play. These teams didn’t play in the regular season this year but Buffalo did face Eastern Michigan and Toledo in the crossover games for a fairly difficult schedule. Northern Illinois drew Ohio and Miami as both teams faced the second and third place teams from the opposing divisions.

 

Experienced mobile quarterbacks are on both sides with sophomore Marcus Childers playing significantly last season as a freshman for Northern Illinois. He posted worse numbers across the board this season however despite a similar record for the Huskies. Junior Tyree Jackson threw nearly twice as many touchdown passes this season compared with last season for Buffalo but he also saw major declines in most of his passing numbers compared with last season. At 6’7” Jackson is a difficult matchup for any defense but the Huskies have had great defensive numbers this season.

 

Only Clemson is allowing fewer yards per carry than Northern Illinois at just 2.6 yards per rush attempt on the season. The Huskies were only out-gained on the ground three times this season and never in MAC play with only Iowa, Florida State, and BYU holding a ground edge in this matchup while in six of eight MAC games Northern Illinois had a rushing edge of at least 96 yards.

 

Dominating the ground game has been the key to beating Buffalo this season as in the team’s two losses they had a major rushing deficit. In September Army out-gained Buffalo by 178 rushing yards and won 42-13 in Buffalo while in mid-November Ohio out-rushed Buffalo by 280 yards in a 52-17 result that prevented the Bulls from clinching the division at the time.

 

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Despite the 6-2 record Northern Illinois played almost exclusively close games in MAC play with seven of eight games decided by 10 or fewer points in either direction. The only lopsided result was a home win over 2017 MAC Champion Toledo but that game featured nearly identical production but a few big turnovers and special teams plays tilting the scales to the Huskies. Northern Illinois actually has a negative scoring differential on the season despite being 7-5, though they outscored MAC foes by an average of 5.3 points per game.

 

Buffalo outscored foes by an average of 11.0 points per game overall this season and 10.9 points per game in MAC play. Buffalo scored at least 31 points in nine of ten wins this season while five of seven wins for Northern Illinois came with 26 or fewer points scored by the Huskies as these teams have generally been in contrasting types of contests and whoever dictates the pace could have the advantage.

 

2017 Meeting: In mid-October Northern Illinois visited Buffalo and took 14-3 lead with a pair of early second quarter touchdown drives led by Marcus Childers who ran for the first score and threw for the second. Buffalo would answer with 10 points before halftime including getting a field goal following a fumble for a one-point game at the break, 14-13. Northern Illinois had 1st-and-goal early in third quarter before a Childers fumble and on the next possession the Huskies missed on a 43-yard field goal. Buffalo got zero points after an 81-yard drive early in the fourth quarter with a missed field goal that could have taken the lead and a few minutes later an interception in Huskies territory also cost the Bulls a chance to get in front. Northern Illinois missed another field goal in the final minutes as the 14-13 edge held after a scoreless second half filled with missed opportunities.

 

Series History: Northern Illinois is 10-0 S/U in this series since Buffalo joined the FBS ranks with the Huskies 7-3 ATS. Northern Illinois has been favored by at least seven points in every previous meeting as this will be the first time Buffalo has been favored in this series and in eight of the previous 10 meetings Northern Illinois has been favored by 14 or more points.

 

MAC Championship History: The MAC Championship has been won by the West representative in eight of the last 12 seasons and Northern Illinois has been six of the previous eight MAC championships, winning the title in 2011, 2012, and 2014, with the last title under current head coach Rod Carey.  

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NFL Close Calls – Week 12

NFL Close Calls – Week 12

11/27/2018

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread and total in the fourth quarter in Week 12 of the NFL regular season.

Chicago Bears (-3) 23, Detroit Lions 16 (43): Chase Daniel filling in for Mitchell Trubisky brought the line on the early Thanksgiving game down from -4 to -3. The Lions trailed 9-7 at the half with the Bears getting a field goal and a touchdown in the final four minutes before halftime. Detroit took a 13-9 advantage into the fourth quarter but the Bears quickly answered to go up by three early in the fourth. The Lions went 73 yards on the next possession but had to settle for a 20-yard field goal to tie the game, after being unable to get in the end zone on a pair of plays inside the 3-yard-line. Detroit’s defense forced a punt but on 1st down Matthew Stafford was intercepted and Eddie Jackson put the Bears in front with a 41-yard return as the Bears suddenly led by seven and the ‘over’ was within a touchdown. Detroit had plenty of time to work with and eventually had a new set of downs at the Chicago 12-yard-line at the two-minute-warning. On 3rd down Stafford was intercepted again this time for a touchback to end the threat as the Bears escaped with the win and cover despite posting only 264 total yards.

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Buffalo Bills (+3) 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 21 (36½): The Bills and Jaguars were tied at 14-14 through three quarters after Josh Lambo missed a field goal from just 42 yards. The Bills haven’t been known as a quick strike offense but in three plays and with the help of 30 penalty yards, Buffalo got in the zone to take a 21-14 edge early in the fourth quarter. Four straight punts followed before the Bills added a field goal after intercepting Blake Bortles deep in Jacksonville territory. The Jaguars would add a touchdown with just over a minute remaining but didn’t get the on-side kick attempt as Buffalo held on for the minor upset and 17 fourth quarter points pushed the game ‘over’ one of the league’s lowest totals of the season.

Baltimore Ravens (-13) 34, Oakland Raiders 17 (41½): Baltimore led just 20-17 through three quarters but another rough fourth quarter was on the way for the Raiders. Former Oakland star Michael Crabtree caught a touchdown pass to put the Ravens up by 10 and Baltimore got a fumble return touchdown from Terrell Suggs a few minutes later after having scored earlier in the game on a punt return putting the Ravens up by 17 on a spread that climbed from -11 to -13. The defeated Raiders didn’t offer a much of a late threat to get back within the number, going backwards on a late 3-and-out.

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Philadelphia Eagles (-5) 25, New York Giants 22 (49):The underdog Giants had a 19-3 edge but the Eagles got eight points with about a minute to go before halftime and then added another three to trail by just five through three quarters. With 10 minutes to go Philadelphia went up by three with another touchdown with a successful two-point conversion, but that lead was not quite enough against a line that opened at -6 never fell past -4 during the week. The Giants tied the game with a short field goal with about six minutes remaining but Philadelphia burned most of the remaining time to hit from 43 yards for a three-point edge for a demoralizing loss for New York, though the effort was enough for the underdog to narrowly hold the cover.

New England Patriots (-13) 27, New York Jets 13 (47): The Jets were tied with the Patriots 13-13 with four minutes left in the third quarter but Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for a 21-yard touchdown as the AFC East leaders took a seven-point edge in the final frame on a spread that climbed up to -13 from an early week price of just -9. The Jets crossed midfield on its next drive but early in the fourth quarter opted to punt after taking a 3rd down sack. New England then completed an 80-yard drive with nine minutes to go for that 14-point advantage. It looked like the Jets would earn the backdoor cover reaching the New England 4-yard-line at the two-minute warning. Josh McCown had two throws to the end zone fall incomplete however as the Patriots held the 14-point margin.

Seattle Seahawks (+3) 30, Carolina Panthers 27 (47): Carolina led by three through three quarters and took a seven-point edge with seven minutes remaining in a game where the Panthers finished with 476 total yards but had a few missed opportunities early to keep Seattle in the game. Seattle went 75 yards in just over three minutes to answer with a tying touchdown. Graham Gano then missed a 52-yard field goal try just after the two-minute warning for the Panthers and without a timeout the Seahawks went 45 yards for Sebastian Janikowski to connect from 31 for the upset win in Charlotte with the Seahawks posting 20 points in the final 22 minutes of the game.

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Denver Broncos (+3) 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 17 (49): These teams were tied at 3-3, 10-10, and then 17-17 through three quarters with Pittsburgh turnovers offsetting a significant production edge. The Broncos completed a 79-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter after a Pittsburgh fumble just outside of the red zone but it appeared the Steelers would tie the game to potentially force overtime. Pittsburgh wound up with a new set of downs at the Denver 3-yard-line just after the two-minute warning but on 3rd-and-goal Ben Roethlisberger rushed a pass up the middle after an awkward exchange and the errant throw was snagged by defensive lineman Shelby Harris for an interception in the end zone to seal the minor upset for the Broncos. That turnover also sealed the ‘under’ with the total likely to be eclipsed had the game headed to overtime.

Minnesota Vikings (-4) 24, Green Bay Packers 17 (49): The Sunday night NFC North battle appeared to be headed towards a shootout with a 14-14 score just four minutes into the second quarter but Minnesota would miss a pair of field goals before halftime. In the second half both teams punted on early possessions while the Packers failed near midfield going for it on 4th-and-1. The good field position allowed Minnesota to finally add three to take the lead with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter with the spread climbing from -3 to -4 by kickoff after opening at -3½. The Vikings were able to take a 10-point lead just before the start of the fourth quarter and then halfway through the fourth the Packers defense got a big 3rd down sack to stay in the game, pushing Minnesota out of field goal range. On the punt disaster struck as the ball bounced into returner Tramon Williams and was recovered by Minnesota at the Green Bay 15-yard-line. Still no points were recorded as Mike Zimmer and the Vikings eventually opted to go for it on 4th-and-2 from the 7-yard-line up by 10. The Packers would face a similar decision on 4th-and-1 ahead of the two-minute-warning but opted to kick the 38-yard field goal to get back within one score, three points which were no help to those on the Packers, while the ‘under’ was also able to hold on.

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4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 13

4th Quarter Covers – NCAA Week 13

11/25/2018

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the final big college football weekend. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

Miami, OH (-14½) 42, Ball State 21: This Tuesday night game was tied at halftime as heavy favorite Miami scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the first half to erase a 21-7 deficit. Miami took over in the third quarter to lead by 14 on a spread that was as high as -17½ early in the week. In the fourth the Redhawks got past the number with a 95-yard touchdown drive to lead by 21 and then held off two late Ball State drives into Miami territory.

Iowa (-8½) 31, Nebraska 28: The spread on this game dived from -10 down to as low as -7½ and the halftime score was right in that range with a 21-13 Iowa edge. Iowa went up by 15 early in the third quarter but then was stopped going for it on 4th down at the Nebraska 3-yard-line to keep the Cornhuskers in the game. Nebraska completed a 98-yard touchdown drive to get back within eight and looked poised to get closer early in the fourth before an interception in Iowa territory. Iowa wasn’t able to extend the lead as a 37-yard field goal was missed and the Huskers went 80 yards to tie the game, successfully converting the two-point conversion. Iowa was able to methodically burn the remaining clock while giving kicker Miguel Recinos a shot at redemption and he hit from 41 yards for the Iowa win as time expired, though the underdog earned the cover.

Texas (-15) 24, Kansas 17: With a spot in the Big XII title game on the line Sam Ehlinger played for the Longhorns but it was a flat start with just a 7-0 edge at halftime. Texas was able to score twice late in the third quarter to get to 21-0 but Kansas wound up with 17 points in the fourth quarter including 10 points in the final four minutes to steal the underdog cover, though with just a 297-296 yardage edge for Texas as the Jayhawks deserved the close scoring result.

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Central Florida (-14½) 38, South Florida 10: UCF took an early 17-0 lead but South Florida trimmed the margin to 17-10 late in the third quarter in a game where star Knights quarterback McKenzie Milton left with a serious leg injury. UCF would run the ball with great success and turned a 14-point edge at the start of the fourth quarter into a 38-10 final result.

Memphis (-10) 52, Houston 31: There were wild swings in this game as a 7-0 Houston edge early turned to a 17-7 deficit before Houston scored twice in two minutes late in the second quarter to lead 21-17 at the half. A back-and-forth game continued in the third quarter with the score knotted at 31-31 through three quarters. Houston posted three scoring drives in the fourth quarter leaning on Darrell Henderson while Houston’s final two drives ended stopped on downs and with an interception. The Tigers will head back to the AAC Championship game for a rematch with UCF while finishing well past the favorite spread that jumped from -7 to -10.

Virginia Tech (+5½) 34, Virginia 31: Looking to snap a long drought in this series the Cavaliers botched some early opportunities with a red zone fumble and then on an interception return at the end of the half, Tim Harris was caught by quarterback Ryan Willis short of the end zone as the Hokies kept a 14-0 edge at the break. Virginia would score touchdowns on four straight possessions to start the second half to lead 28-24 with seven minutes to go facing a spread that fluctuated in between -3½ and -5½. The Cavaliers then forced a fumble and an interception on the next two possessions for the Hokies, eventually adding a field goal to lead by seven with just over two minutes to go. Virginia Tech hit a 45-yard pass to get into the red zone and then on a rush approaching the end zone a forced fumble that would have effectively ended the game for the Cavaliers was recovered for a touchdown by the Hokies. In overtime Virginia Tech went first and didn’t gain a yard but hit the 42-yard field goal, leaving those laying the points with the Cavaliers in need of a second session. The Hokies came up big on defense forcing another turnover to keep bowl hopes alive while maintaining the winning streak in this rivalry.

Oklahoma (-3) 59, West Virginia 56: This game for a spot in the Big XII title game lived up to expectations with a high scoring back-and-forth affair. A defensive touchdown gave Oklahoma the early edge with a 35-28 halftime advantage but West Virginia tied the game early in the third quarter and had a 49-45 lead through three quarters. It would be defense that again delivered for Oklahoma with a 48-yard fumble return touchdown with 10 minutes to go for a 10-point edge. West Virginia climbed back within three to match the closing spread though most Sooners backers likely had a number below -3. Oklahoma picked up a 4th-and-5 conversion just past midfield and then got another first down to end the game with the three-point edge.

Clemson (-25½) 56, South Carolina 35: Highly ranked Clemson was tested in a back-and-forth first half vs. South Carolina with the Tigers eventually posting 744 yards but not exactly looking like a championship contender on defense with the Gamecocks also reaching 600 yards of offense. The Tigers led by just seven at halftime and by 21 through three quarters but a 98-yard touchdown drive put the Tigers up by 28 and past the favorite spread early in the third quarter. The Gamecocks scored the next 14 to get back within the number as a late Tigers touchdown wasn’t quite enough to get past the heavy favorite spread.

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Marshall (-3½) 28, Florida International 25: The Herd led 14-0 early with the help of a interception return touchdown playing as a slight road favorite with a closing line of -3½ though most books opened with FIU as a slight favorite. Marshall scored on a blocked punt late in the third quarter to lead by 11 but early in the fourth the Panthers got a touchdown and a two-point conversion to trail by just three. Marshall answered with a four-minute drive to lead by 10 but FIU again scored to get back within three with about five minutes remaining. The Herd burned the remaining clock and got inside the 10-yard line of FIU but didn’t need to add points and took a knee for a common line push though the hook was added on Saturday for many.

Northwestern (-14½) 24, Illinois 16: With a championship game on deck Northwestern was sluggish early but two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the first half put the Wildcats up 21-6 and then a third quarter field goal made the margin 18 points on a spread that opened at 18 and dipped to 14½ by kickoff. Illinois would add 10 points in the fourth quarter in a game where the Illini had a production edge and actually had the ball inside the Northwestern 20-yard-line late with a potential chance to tie before an interception.

NC State (-7½) 34, North Carolina 28: These nearby rivals were tied 21-21 through three quarters and 28-28 late in the fourth quarter. NC State opted to punt across midfield in the final minute to play for overtime and the move paid off as the Tar Heels went first in overtime and missed a field goal. Much of the week the NC State was just -6 and that was the final margin with a Wolfpack rush into the end zone that preceded some spirited post-game activity in the end zone between the teams.

Liberty (-6) 28, New Mexico State 21: Liberty stormed out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter of this same-season rematch. New Mexico State would score on a kickoff return touchdown and an interception return touchdown to get back in the game before the end of the first quarter. Liberty moved ahead 28-14 by halftime facing a spread that dropped from -9 all the way to -6 by kickoff. With less than a minute to go the Aggies found the end zone on a 4th-and-goal play to land in the middle of the potential numbers.

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Boise State (-2½) 33, Utah State 24: Boise State led 17-7 early as just a slight favorite at home with a spot in the Mountain West Championship on the line. Through three quarters the lead was trimmed to six points and Utah State hit a field goal early in the fourth to trail by three. Boise State scored halfway through the final frame after getting a red zone 4th down conversion but a bad snap cost the Broncos the PAT for just a nine-point advantage. A pair of punts followed but with about three minutes to go the Aggies connected for an 83-yard touchdown to suddenly trail by just two. The Aggies had converted a 4th-and-1 from their own 24-yard line and hit the big play on 2nd-and-25 after a pair of penalties for what looked like a miracle score for those getting the points with Utah State, with a two-point margin thanks to Boise missing on the PAT earlier in the quarter. A 59-yard run put Boise State inside the Utah State 10 in the final minute and eventually facing 4th down with only eight seconds to go the Broncos opted to go for it from the 1-yard-line rather than kicking a field goal. Both types of scores would have been enough for Broncos backers and Alexander Mattison made it a moot point by pounding into the end zone to secure the home favorite win and cover.

California (-11½) 33, Colorado 21: The Bears had a pair of touchdowns on interception returns in the first two minutes of the game and then added another short field score to lead 21-0 as Colorado’s hopes of making a bowl game were extinguished quickly. The Buffaloes kept things interesting relative to the spread however as they scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to cut the margin to just six points after trailing 24-7 at halftime. The Cal offense barely topped 200 yards in the game but converted a red zone 4th down via penalty and added a touchdown for a 12-point edge, failing going for two to sit right near the spread that opened at -11, reached as high as -12½, and closed at -11½. The Buffaloes would reach midfield on a late possession but didn’t add points for a 12-point final margin that led to mixed spread results.

Stanford (-7) 49, UCLA 42: The Cardinal extended its lead to 41-27 late in the third quarter but the Bruins added nine points late in the quarter with a safety and a subsequent kickoff return touchdown to make it a five-point game into the fourth quarter. The Bruins took a one-point edge with a 90-yard touchdown drive five minutes into the fourth quarter but didn’t get the conversion. A minute later Stanford hit a 52-yard pass for a touchdown and the Cardinal got the two-point attempt for a seven-point edge in a critical play with a spread that bounced between -6½ and -7 for the road favorite. UCLA missed a long field goal try on its next possession and was stopped on downs on two late drives in Stanford territory as the Cardinal escaped with the seven-point edge holding.

Texas A&M (-3) 74, LSU 72: The Aggies led by seven after the second and third quarters but a defensive score for LSU tied the game early in the fourth quarter. LSU would take a 31-24 lead in the final frame and then stopped the Aggies on 4th down in LSU territory with just over two minutes to go. LSU only burned a minute off the clock before punting and Aggies delivered a big finish surviving an interception that was overturned on review and then converting a 4th-and-18. One second was put back on the clock for Texas A&M after a Kellen Mond spike and he hit Quartney Davis for the tying touchdown. The game would eventually go to seven overtimes with some big conversions on both sides to reach a basketball level final score. In the seventh session LSU scored on just one play but didn’t get the two-pointer to lead by just six. The Aggies got the tying score and then got a pass interference call on the first two-point conversion try. The Aggies then had a false start but found the completion for the go-ahead conversion though it wasn’t quite enough for Aggies backers who crossed or reached the favorite number going first in the second, fourth, and sixth overtimes but couldn’t end the game on defense.

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Notre Dame (-14) 24, USC 17: With all the pressure on Notre Dame as a heavy road favorite, USC led 10-0 early before the Irish got on the board just before halftime. Notre Dame was composed out of the break and scored 10 points to take a seven-point edge into the fourth quarter. On a spread that climbed from -8 to -14 Notre Dame made the margin 14 with a 51-yard passing touchdown with just over three minutes remaining to put most on the favorite in position to collect. USC didn’t fold however and on 3rd-and-10 in the final minute the Trojans hit a 20-yard strike to get back within the number.

Alabama (-26½) 52, Auburn 21: Alabama hasn’t had to do much 4th quarter scoring this season but after Auburn cut the margin to 10 points late in the third quarter Alabama turned it back on with three consecutive touchdowns on just eight offensive snaps to make it a 31-point margin with nine minutes to go in the game. Auburn gained some yardage late but wasn’t a serious backdoor threat late on two drives across midfield as the Iron Bowl wound up with a blowout final score and the heavy favorite snagging the cover.

UNLV (+14) 34, Nevada 29: The Wolf Pack led 23-0 early in this game but only took a 26-21 edge into halftime. UNLV kept the momentum and led through three quarters. A field goal put Nevada in front by one in the fourth quarter but with Armani Rogers back UNLV completed a late long drive to secure the upset while Nevada’s last threat ended with an interception.

Arizona State (-1) 41, Arizona 40: The Sun Devils opened as a 3-point favorite but the line dipped down to just -1 in this rivalry game with Arizona looking to earn a bowl spot. The line differences didn’t seem to matter with Arizona in front 40-21 through three quarters, missing on a two-point conversion tries when they were up 12 in both the second and third quarters. Those missed points came back to bite as Arizona State engineered a remarkable comeback with 20 points in the fourth quarter, with the final two scores following Arizona turnovers with the lead. After ASU went in front 41-40 with three minutes remaining, Khalil Tate led the Wildcats in position for a 45-yard field goal but the go-ahead kick was missed.

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Free NFL Pick Sunday

 

#265 Miami Dolphins +9 over Indianapolis Colts 12:00 PM CT

The Colts have some momentum with four straight wins to reach 5-5 but they beat teams that are a combined 13-27 in that run while getting to face a back-up quarterback last week against a Titans team that provided the highest quality win for the Colts in that run. Ryan Tannehill is set to return for Miami this week as they won’t again get to face a backup quarterback but some rust is possible for the Miami offense. It is the Colts that will be shorthanded on offense however with Center Ryan Kelly ruled out to shake up the offensive line while only two healthy tight ends are available this week for Indianapolis.

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While the Colts held the Titans to just 10 points last week allowing 28 to the Raiders and 26 to the Jaguars presents some concern for the Indianapolis defense and Tannehill had very capable numbers this season before his injury. 5-5 on the season, the Dolphins are still in the AFC Wild Card picture and Miami enters this critical game off a bye week for a potential advantage. Miami is only 1-4 on the road but they have had to face the Patriots, Bengals, Texans, and Packers in those road losses as this is likely the most favorable road game for the team since a Week 2 win over the Jets.

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The Colts haven’t been a favorite of more than seven points in four years going back to November of 2014 as this is an inflated price to give with a Colts defense that has surrendered 25 points per game through what rates as the second weakest schedule in the league. The Colts have the seventh most passing attempts in the league but Miami has the far superior pass defense in this matchup with the Colts allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 72 percent of throws this season, the second worst mark in the league only ahead of Tampa Bay’s historically bad pass defense. Those marginal pass numbers have come against Blaine Gabbert, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr, Derek Anderson, and Sam Darnold in the past five games as while Tannehill isn’t a star quarterback he compares very favorably with that grouping.

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Nelly’s went 3-0 in the NFL last Sunday while 11-5 the past five weeks – get Sunday’s 2/3 for $25! Bobby Dalton went 4-0 Saturday and is on an 8-1 run in football totals while going 12-7 in NFL 10* picks this season – get a 10* total as part of a High Five Offer for NFL Week 12 for $39.99. Maximum Sports has a guaranteed 5-Pack with a 60% guarantee Sunday coming off cashing his 10* Game of the Month yesterday with Ohio State. Point Train has 5-unit Total for Sunday night, coming off a 5-unit winner last night. Big E also has his next 10* Biggie coming off winning his Game of the Month last Sunday!

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#220 Florida Atlantic -17 over Charlotte 5:00 PM CT

After Thursday’s loss at North Texas, the 2017 Conference USA champions need to win this game to make a bowl game. The Owls have much better statistics than the record suggests, outscoring conference foes by 37 points despite the 3-4 record. Charlotte was once 4-4 but now sits at 4-7 and Brad Lambert will not be retained the school announced after the 42-35 loss to Florida International. A lot of narrow losses filled the conference campaign but the 49ers might not have much left in the tank. In Boca Raton the Owls are 11-1 S/U and 8-4 ATS since losing the season opener last season and nine of those 11 wins have come by 18 or more points. Charlotte has not won a road game since November of 2016 with a 0-12 S/U and 4-8 ATS run with nine of those losses coming by double-digits.

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Don’t miss Nelly’s college football Game of the Year for Saturday coming off a 6-1 weekend last week. We hit our sixth consecutive 2* winner yesterday and we are on a 13-6 3* college football run since December 2015 while 4-0-1 in our last five college or bowl GOY picks.

Also check out the next 20* from the Big E in Conference USA – 9-4 this season in 20* & higher picks! Maximum has a rare 10* Game of the Month today to build on a huge college football season while Point Train has a late night 5-unit pick looking to add to nearly 70 units of profit this season!

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Thursday College Football Preview

Thursday Night College Football – Mississippi State at Mississippi

Mississippi State and Mississippi will be playing on Thanksgiving night for the second straight season as one of nation’s longest uninterrupted rivalries will be featured in the final Thursday night regular season game of the season. The Egg Bowl features great intensity and has featured numerous memorable games in recent years. Here is a look at Thursday Night Football between Mississippi and Mississippi State.

Match-up: Mississippi State Bulldogs at Mississippi Rebels

Venue: At Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi

Time/TV: Thursday, November 22, 7:30 PM ET ESPN

Line: Mississippi State -11, Over/Under 59

Last Meeting: 2017, Mississippi (+15) 31, at Mississippi State 28

After a post-game brawl in 1926 Ole Miss and Mississippi A&M (now Mississippi State) created a Golden Egg trophy for the victor although the rivalry game wasn’t referred to colloquially as the ‘Egg Bowl’ until 1979. While both programs have had some ups and downs the 2014 meeting was one of the high points of the rivalry with two highly ranked teams with #19 Ole Miss upsetting then #4 Mississippi State 31-17. This year’s game doesn’t carry the same weight but the intensity on the field will remain strong.

After a messy off-season in 2017 Matt Luke took over as the interim head coach for Ole Miss with the Rebels finishing 6-6 after winning this season finale vs. a ranked Mississippi State squad for the third win in the past four years of this rivalry. Luke was retained to lead the program moving forward and it has been an up-and-down season. A win this week at home will get the Rebels to 6-6 again though Mississippi is still in the midst of a postseason ban.

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There were big changes for Mississippi State ahead of this season as Dan Mullen departed after nine solid seasons in Starkville, taking over at Florida. Joe Moorhead was hired to lead the program following a four-year stint as Fordham’s head coach from 2012 to 2015 while serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Penn State under James Franklin the previous two years.

Moorhead inherited a great senior quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald to lead his offense but while Fitzgerald has been productive, he hasn’t had the same statistical success he had in his best season in 2016. He’ll likely surpass his rushing and passing totals from last season by the end of the season but his per carry average has gone down substantially, as has his passing completion rate.

Despite Moorhead’s offensive background the Bulldogs are 7-4 mainly thanks to the SEC’s second best scoring defense, allowing just 16 points per game in league play. 28 points allowed at Kentucky in the SEC opener has been the season high allowed by the Bulldogs, who held Alabama to a season low 24 points earlier this month. Mississippi State has only scored 17 points per game on average in SEC play however as the least productive offensive team in the entire SEC.

Mississippi has averaged nearly 37 points per game this season although just 25 points per game in SEC play. The Rebels are surrendering more than 36 points per game however and in SEC play that average is nearly 42 points per game as this matchup will feature a great clash of style and pace.

Mississippi is just 1-6 in SEC play only beating Arkansas and that win featured a wild comeback, trailing by nine with five minutes to go. Ole Miss has lost the past four games but two of those results have been single-score games including losing in overtime last week at Vanderbilt.

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Jordan Ta’amu has been very productive at quarterback for the Rebels as he’ll likely eclipse 4,000 yards passing this week, while posting nearly 9.6 yards per attempt. Ta’amu isn’t the ground presence that Fitzgerald is but he has rushed for 366 yards while Scottie Phillips is close to 1,000 rushing yards out of the backfield. A. J. Brown leads a talented receiving corps with 81 catches for 1,259 receiving yards, the fifth most yards nationally.

Mississippi State can clinch a winning season in SEC play with a victory this week to get to 5-3 with Mullen surprisingly only topping 4-4 in SEC play once in nine seasons in 2014. The Bulldogs would also finish at worst tied for third in the SEC West with a win with Mullen only finishing above 4th place in that 2014 season to potentially boost its bowl standing.

2016 Meeting: This was a bowl elimination game between 5-6 teams last season in Oxford. It was a back-and-forth first half with a 27-20 lead for Mississippi State. That score held until just over five minutes to go in the third quarter before the Bulldogs went on a 28-0 run the close the game for a somewhat misleading 55-20 final result. Mississippi State had just a 566-528 yardage edge and benefitted from a 2-1 turnover edge including a 4th quarter pick-six. Nick Fitzgerald rushed for 258 yards and accounted for five touchdowns while current Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson threw for 320 yards for the Rebels but had two interceptions to match his two touchdowns.

Last Season: Mississippi took an early 10-0 lead but the Bulldogs got a pair of field goals before halftime to trail 10-6.  A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf scored on receptions of 77 yards and 63 yards from Jordan Ta’amu in the final eight minutes of the third quarter as the Rebels led 24-6. Mississippi State made a late rally to close to within three points with just over a minute remaining but didn’t get the on-side kick attempt. Mississippi State had a 501-355 edge in yardage and a 27-11 edge in first downs but had five turnovers.

Historical Trends: Ole Miss owns a 21-17 S/U and 22-15-1 ATS edge in this series since 1980 including winning and covering in four of the past six meetings. Mississippi State won 55-20 two years ago in Oxford but is 2-7 S/U and 2-6-1 ATS in the last nine road meetings in this series. This will be the biggest road favorite spread for the Bulldogs in this series as far back as there is data to 1980. Mississippi State is 1-5 ATS in the past six games as a double-digit favorite including losing 28-7 at Kentucky this September in the most recent instance. Mississippi is 0-5 ATS in the past five games as a home underdog including going 0-2 S/U and ATS this season. Mississippi is 8-5 ATS as a double-digit home underdog since 2006.

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