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Hawaii vs. Boise State Picks & Odds: Friday, November 23rd, 2007

HAWAII VS. BOISE STATE PICKS & ODDS

Boise State beat Idaho 58-14 at home as a 34.5-point favorite, outgaining the Vandals by 208 yards. In a Friday night game, Hawaii went to Reno and beat Nevada by a 28-26 score with a last-second field goal, failing to cover as a five-point road favorite. Tyler Graunke went the bulk of the way at quarterback for Hawaii.

HEAD-TO-HEAD college football betting trends:
* BOISE has covered four of the last six meetings
* BOISE has won the last six meetings SU
* Four of the last five meetings have gone OVER the total
* BOISE has scored 154 points in the last three meetings
* BOISE has averaged 39.8 ppg in the last eight meetings

LAST MEETING: Last year, on its way to an unbeaten season, Boise State beat Hawaii 41-34, failing to cover as a 15.5-point home favorite on their vaunted “Blue Carpet.” The teams combined for 991 yards. Ian Johnson, the star running back for Boise State, ran for 178 yards.

ABOUT BOISE STATE:
The Good News — The Broncos average 44.2 points and 490 yards per game. They have better balance than Hawaii, gaining 201.5 rushing yards per contest. Ian Johnson has run for 218 yards in his last two games. QB Taylor Tharp has completed 80% of his passes in his last three contests, with nine TD’s and one INT. Twenty-three of his completions in the last three games have gone to true frosh Austin Pettis. Boise State ranks tenth in the country in total defense as well. And at 10-1, the Broncos still have an outside shot at getting into a BCS game.

The Bad News — Short weeks are never a positive when you have to travel across time zones to Honolulu, especially when you’re flying out of a place like Boise, Idaho.

BOISE STATE TRENDS:
* BOISE has covered four of its last five games
* BOISE has covered four of its last six road games
* BOISE has won 11 of its last 12 road games SU
* BOISE has played five UNDERS in its last seven road games
* BOISE has won 17 straight conference games SU

ABOUT HAWAII:
The Good News — Although it won’t get a chance to play for the national title, Hawaii has a shot at a BCS bowl game if it wins against Boise State and the season finale against Washington. QB Colt Brennan says he’s 100% for this game. The senior has thrown for 3237 yards with 28 TD’s and 12 interceptions. Hawaii is the highest-scoring team in the country, averaging 48 points a game. And the Warrior defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks 35 times.

The Bad News — Hawaii is 115th in the country in rushing offense, though that’s a little deceiving, since they’ve run it only 214 times and average 3.6 yards a carry with 15 TD’s. But if the passing game sputters, they may not be able to rely on a ground attack.

HAWAII TRENDS:
* HAWAII has covered one of its last five games
* HAWAII has played four of its last six games UNDER the total
* HAWAII has covered one of its last five as a home favorite

THE BOTTOM LINE: There are always pitfalls in the trip to Hawaii, but Boise State has been through this drill before. The Broncos have won 23 of their last 24 games, and with Ian Johnson, they can play ball control to keep Hawaii’s offense off the field. And they have enough creativity to keep Hawaii’s limited “D” off balance. If you don’t believe us, get a tape of last season’s Fiesta Bowl. Sure, Colt Brennan is still a Heisman candidate, but has he performed much better than Taylor Tharp? Not really. With 17 straight WAC wins, Boise State masters this level of competition. And they have the defense to go with the offense. Somewhere, Hawaii’s narrow escapes have to catch up to them. It might as well be when we can grab some points. Therefore, take Boise State plus the points.

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Arkansas vs. LSU Picks & Odds: Friday, November 23rd, 2007

ARKANSAS VS. LSU PICKS & ODDS

LSU will not lose this game. Let me say that right now. LSU will not lose this game. The Fighting Tigers are just too tough mentally to let that number 1 BCS ranking slip out of their grasp.

Sure, the Arkansas Razorbacks have one of the most exciting players in college football carrying the ball in Dennis McFadden, but the LSU Fighting Tigers have one of the toughest coaches in Les Miles and probably the best defensive player in all of football in Glenn Dorsey.

They also have heart which is the reason they won’t lose this game. Now, by saying that LSU won’t lose this game, I’m not saying that LSU will cover in this game.

Take a look at this NCAA football betting trend:

The LSU Fighting Tigers are 2 and 6 against the spread in their last 8 games.

This makes all the sense in the world as LSU has been overrated by odds-makers all year. They started the season by covering their first four games. Then, they lost to Auburn and sort of haven’t been able to cover a spread since.

Why? Because they started to play inter-conference games and, as anyone who knows something about the SEC will tell you, going undefeated in the SEC is flat out impossible.

LSU didn’t do it, but their still ranked number one in the BCS towards the end of the year. That makes them a very good wager to cover this spread versus the Arkansas Razorbacks, right?

Absolutely not. The spread is much too high to even consider LSU covering. LSU’s defense will not shut-down McFadden, few defenses can, and the Razorbacks will find a way to beat the spread.

Again, that’s not to say that LSU will lose this game. They will win, but the point spread is much too high.

The current betting line in this game is Arkansas Razorbacks + 12 on the road versus the LSU Tigers.

Take the Razorbacks to beat the spread in this one.

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USC vs. Arizona State: The Pac-10 and a berth in the Rose Bowl

What a year for the USC Trojans. They were ranked as high as #2 in the nation and had an opportunity to be ranked #1 with only Stanford standing in their way. We all know what happened in that one; a 24-23 embarrassing home loss. They then loss to another Pac-10 rival Oregon a few weeks later. Despite the losses and drop in the polls, they find themselves back in contention for the Pac-10 title. Beat Arizona State and then UCLA and a berth in the Rose Bowl is theirs.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet, as Arizona State controls their own destiny and may have something to say about whether the Trojans make it back to the Rose Bowl. If they close out the season with wins over both USC and Arizona, they will be representing the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl. Coach Erickson, in his 1st year with the Sun Devils, made it his priority to restore the program when he took over last December. What he has done this season is unbelievable quite frankly when you consider that they were just 7-6 last year and a poor 4-5 in conference play.

“I told them that I hoped that I could take them to places like this, where they would have this opportunity, and its here,” Erickson said Monday. “It’s going to be fun for them, and its fun for me to watch them react to where they’re at right now. That’s the fun part of coaching.” “Now, playing USC, I don’t know how much fun that’s going to be.”

Both teams are coming off a bye and should be rested for this one. Their health is more of a concern with Booty dealing with a cracked finger for the past couple of weeks and State QB Carpenter is battling a sprained thumb.

“It hurts taking a snap because that’s where the ball hits on that part of your thumb,” Carpenter said Monday. “Handing off with my right hand doesn’t feel good, and throwing — all those things. It hurts, and I’m going to play until I can’t any more, I guess. Hopefully I’ll make it through the U. of A. game.”

History is definitely on the Trojans side as they have owned the Sun Devils having won the last 7 outscoring them 274-141 in those games combined. But when State is ranked, SC is just 2-4.

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Current NCAA College Football Power Ratings-Rankings: November 19th, 2007

The BGS College Football Power Ratings / Rankings have the luxury of being 100% objective and in fact *have* to look at all teams that way. The same cannot be said for polls, which are opinion based and fueld by private agenda’s and linemakers, who always need to factor in public perception for the sake of balancing action.

The BGS Gambling Specific Power Ratings are not handicapped by either of those two major flaws, which is the reason, quite frankly, these ratings are always more accurate than both pollsters, linesmakers and bookmakers.

As early as 4 weeks ago Kansas identified itself as one of the top 2 teams in the nation and these ratings recognized that when it was difficult for others to do that publicly. It is becoming increasingly difficult to deny Kansas what they have rightfully earned, and this week we see them as a top 2 team in all major polls and in the BCS, so, even those with private agendas can only be so stubborn. Eventually, the strength of this Jayhawks football team has to be conceeded.

In fact, 4 weeks ago The BGS Gambling Specific Power Ratings had Kansas not only as one of the top 2 teams in the nation, but in fact, as a small favorite over Missouri on neutral ground. This week we see bookmakers following that lead both in Las Vegas and offshore, as Leroy’s has opened the Jayhawks a -2 point favorite over Missouri, as has BetCris, posting the earliest offshore line as Kansas -2 as well.

The BGS Gambling Specific Power Ratings still offer some value in that line, as the rating have Kansas a 1 score favorite in ‘no man’s land’ between a FG and a TD. Should be a great game. If I had to predict it personally, I’d make it Kansas by 6 in triple OT.

Note: The BGS Brian Gabrielle Sports Power Ratings are recognized as the oldest and most reliable Gambling Power Ratings in existence. The following are not opinion polls like the AP or USA Today and are not politically influenced like Sagarin and other BCS ratings. The below ratings are the UNBIASED BGS Power Ratings designed specifically for determining expected RAW pointspreads.

Team Win Loss AwayRating HomeRating
1 Kansas 11 0 94 97
2 LSU 10 1 92.5 95.5
3 Ohio State 11 1 92 95
4 West Virginia 9 1 91.5 94.5
5 Oklahoma 9 2 90.5 93.5
6 Oregon 8 2 90 93
7 Missouri 10 1 88.5 91.5
8 Arizona State 9 1 87.5 90.5
9 Florida 8 3 87.5 90.5
10 Southern California 8 2 87.5 90.5
11 Boise State 10 1 85 88
12 Virginia Tech 9 2 85 88
13 Texas 9 2 84.5 87.5
14 Georgia 9 2 84.5 87.5
15 South Florida 8 3 84.5 87.5
16 Cincinnati 8 3 84.5 87.5
17 Hawaii 10 0 83.5 86.5
18 Boston College 9 2 83.5 86.5
19 Clemson 8 3 83 86
20 Connecticut 9 2 82 85
21 Illinois 9 3 81.5 84.5
22 Texas Tech 8 4 81 84
23 Kentucky 7 4 81 84
24 Utah 8 3 80.5 83.5
25 Michigan 8 4 80.5 83.5
26 Penn State 8 4 80.5 83.5
27 Auburn 7 4 80.5 83.5
28 BYU 8 2 80 83
29 Oregon State 7 4 80 83
30 Arkansas 7 4 79.5 82.5
31 Wisconsin 9 3 79 82
32 Tennessee 8 3 79 82
33 Virginia 9 2 78 81
34 Rutgers 7 4 78 81
35 California 6 5 78 81
36 Florida State 7 4 77.5 80.5
37 Bowling Green 7 4 77 80
38 Oklahoma State 6 5 77 80
39 Purdue 7 5 76.5 79.5
40 Alabama 6 5 76.5 79.5
41 UCLA 5 5 76.5 79.5
42 Air Force 9 3 76 79
43 Central Florida 8 3 76 79
44 Wake Forest 7 4 76 79
45 Michigan State 7 5 76 79
46 South Carolina 6 5 76 79
47 Georgia Tech 7 4 75.5 78.5
48 Kansas State 5 6 75.5 78.5
49 Troy 7 3 74.5 77.5
50 Texas A&M 6 5 74.5 77.5
51 Louisville 5 6 74 77
52 New Mexico 7 4 72.5 75.5
53 Indiana 7 5 72.5 75.5
54 Vanderbilt 5 6 72.5 75.5
55 TCU 6 5 72 75
56 Arizona 5 6 72 75
57 Fresno State 6 4 71.5 74.5
58 Tulsa 8 3 71 74
59 Ball State 6 5 71 74
60 Maryland 5 6 71 74
61 Mississippi State 6 5 70.5 73.5
62 Colorado 5 6 70.5 73.5
63 Nebraska 5 6 70 73
64 Navy 7 4 69.5 72.5
65 East Carolina 6 5 69 72
66 Iowa 6 6 69 72
67 NC State 5 6 69 72
68 Houston 7 4 68.5 71.5
69 Southern Miss 6 5 67.5 70.5
70 Central Michigan 6 5 67 70
71 Pittsburgh 4 6 67 70
72 Northwestern 6 6 66.5 69.5
73 Washington State 4 7 66.5 69.5
74 Miami-Florida 5 6 66 69
75 North Carolina 3 8 66 69
76 Stanford 3 7 65.5 68.5
77 Western Kentucky 7 4 65 68
78 Miami-Ohio 6 5 65 68
79 Wyoming 5 6 65 68
80 Nevada 5 5 64.5 67.5
81 San Diego State 4 6 64.5 67.5
82 Middle Tennessee 5 6 64 67
83 Mississippi 3 8 64 67
84 Louisiana Tech 5 6 62.5 65.5
85 Memphis 6 5 62 65
86 Florida Atlantic 5 5 61.5 64.5
87 Buffalo 4 7 61.5 64.5
88 Ohio University 5 6 61 64
89 Iowa State 3 9 61 64
90 Colorado State 2 9 61 64
91 Toledo 5 6 60.5 63.5
92 Louisiana-Monroe 5 6 60.5 63.5
93 Western Michigan 4 7 60.5 63.5
94 San Jose State 4 7 60 63
95 Arkansas State 5 6 59.5 62.5
96 Notre Dame 2 9 59.5 62.5
97 Akron 4 7 59 62
98 UTEP 4 7 58 61
99 UNLV 2 9 58 61
100 Duke 1 10 57.5 60.5
101 Eastern Michigan 4 8 57 60
102 Marshall 2 9 57 60
103 Syracuse 2 9 57 60
104 Temple 4 7 56 59
105 Army 3 8 56 59
106 Baylor 3 9 56 59
107 Tulane 4 7 55.5 58.5
108 Kent State 3 8 55.5 58.5
109 New Mexico State 4 8 54.5 57.5
110 Minnesota 1 11 54.5 57.5
111 Northern Illinois 2 9 53.5 56.5
112 Washington 4 7 53 56
113 Louisiana-Lafayette 3 8 52.5 55.5
114 Utah State 1 10 52.5 55.5
115 Rice 3 8 52 55
116 Idaho 1 10 50.5 53.5
117 UAB 2 9 49.5 52.5
118 SMU 1 10 49.5 52.5
119 North Texas 1 9 46 49
120 Fla. International 0 10 45.5 48.5

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New England vs. Buffalo Bills Picks & Odds

Preview The New England Patriots come roaring out of a bye week to terrorize the league. With their eyes squarely focused on decimating the home stretch, the run begins in Orchard Park where they will face a feisty Buffalo team that loves to bust the spread apart. Can New England stay focused on a riley Bills team, or will they get consumed by their pursuit of history and get caught looking down the road?

New England Offense vs. Buffalo Defense = The New England offense is the best in the NFL and there is no point going over small facts here. They rock the league for 39.4 points per game, while Buffalo gives up an average of 18.4 points per game. Buffalo gives up an alarming 359.4 yards per game, but they keep opponents off the scoreboard.

The defense in Buffalo is athletic, agile and fast, and that could pose problems for New England as Brady might come under fire more often than not in the backfield. Buffalo won’t be caught trying to drop back defenders in to the box. They will use their speed to gun after Brady’s head.

But tipping the scales way in the favor of New England is their passing game, which leads the league with 296.3 passing yards. Terrence McGee has been lighting up top receivers around the league, but he’s facing a matchup nightmare with Randy Moss, who is over half-a-foot taller. Buffalo lacks the depth at corner to keep up with New England’s heavily used spread offense.

Buffalo Offense vs. New England Defense – J.P. Losman has secured the starting spot, but it won’t make a difference. Losman has been erratic and Marshawn Lynch is obviously not healthy. This stalwart defense is going to chew up this Buffalo offense. Knowing that Lee Evans is their only weapon will make game planning fairly simple for this defense.

Marshawn Lynch is an impossibly strong runner, but carrying the load against a stacked New England offense will be next to impossible. Buffalo’s offense passes for an abysmal 163.8 yards per game, and Losman is impossible to gauge. Buffalo may be 7-2 ATS on the season, but betting on Losman to cover against the Patriots is like betting on Britney to win “Parent of the Year” for 2007.

NFL Betting Trends

-New England is 8-1 ATS in its last 9 games

-total has gone OVER in 4 of New England’s last 5 games

-New England is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games playing Buffalo

-Buffalo is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games

Final Verdict – This is an open-and-shut case for the Sunday Night Game. The Patriots betting faithful hit a speed bump against the Colts, but the Patriots will return to their spread crushing ways this weekend in prime time. The odds makers can’t spread the line farther than a little over two touchdowns because nobody would take the Bills. The Pats betting faithful should stay true to their Superbowl favorite Patriots this weekend as they obliterate the Bills.

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Betting on College Football Rivalry Games

By Erik Scheponik for Steve Merril Sports

The best time of the year on the sports calendar is late November College Football rivalries. Two teams that are bounded by tradition and location are squaring off in a game that has been circled since last year’s game ended. The emotion is high, the stadium is usually packed, and the hitting is a little harder that it has been all season.

The old axiom of “throwing the records out the window” definitely applies in many cases. Although this year there is not a true “rivalry week” feel due to the games being spread out over the next 3 weeks, we’ll just have to pay attention over that span to pick our rivalry spots. Below are some factors to consider when analyzing these late season rivalry matchups.

1. Traditionally close rivalries – Lean towards taking big points in rivalry games that have a history of being nail biters. A lot can happen during the course of the season, but a team that has had more downs than ups (re: the dog) usually brings their A game against the rival.

2. Special Teams – For some reason, special teams play always seems to come up huge in these rivalries. Teams with a good special teams coach often scout their late season opponents kicking units looking to find a weakness. They have waited all year to exploit this weakness and now get to incorporate what they have learned.

3. Rivalry Experience – In year-end rivalry analysis there is nothing that matches “having been there before”. Upperclassmen have a better understanding of what is at stake in these games. They deal with the hype and preparation better and the maturity helps them understand the pressure.

4. Minor or Non Bowler vs. Major Bowler – When a team’s postseason fate is already decided, this year-end rivalry game often means much more to them than the bowl. The Major Bowler, usually the favorite, is attempting to improve its bowl position, and if there is such a thing, may not be taking its rival serious. At the same time, you don’t want to overlook…

5. Series Dominance – Some teams just own others. They either take great joy in pounding their athletically inferior rival or are simply coached by a staff that annually out schemes the opposing staff. When this series dominance is not accurately reflected in the line (i.e. the usual favorite is now the dog) there can be serious line value. Remember, the ball can bounce a lot of different ways during the course of the season, but two things are usually consistent if you have a longtime coach: The quality of athletes, and the emphasis placed on this rivalry

6. Coaching Situation – Much like I prefer upperclassmen in a rivalry, I also shy away from new head coaches or staffs, especially when laying points to a coach that has enjoyed at least some success in this rivalry. Also, put emphasis on a coach that may need to win to keep his job, especially if that coach is in good standing with his players.

7. Exploiting Weaknesses – If a team has a glaring weakness, believe me its rival knows about it. You often see very good defenses give up big numbers in rivalry games, or teams go off for season high rushing amounts or sacks, etc… Even small weaknesses on good teams have a way of being magnified when facing a rival that is merely competent in that area.

8. Lean to Underdogs – Although not as much value as their used to be in this strategy, the best way to begin your handicapping is to shade underdogs slightly and go from there. That doesn’t mean you can’t bet a favorite, just shade the dogs slightly and don’t underestimate the role that emotion will play.

Erik Scheponik is a full-time professional handicapper and is considered one of the top young names in the sports betting industry.

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