Big 10 Blues + Hoosiers Rule
A pair of football previews to start the new week, then I’ll delve into a recap of the wagering weekend!
Patriots/Jets Monday Night: Uggh, the old AFC East rivalry is nothing but a battle of homely has-beens. The Patriots’ offense is even uglier than last season, fourth-worst in points scored (19.4 pg) , while the defense has slipped considerably, especially up front getting gouged for 140.4 yards rushing per contest. The only break is that they’re facing a winless New York offense that is horrendous, last in total yards and points, an anemic 11.8 points per game. Should make for good television! Or maybe a quick nightcap to put viewers asleep early. The Jets are on a 5-1 run UNDER the total, while the Patriots have lost four straight averaging 12.2 points. If you could ever predict a 3-2 final this looks like it (the UNDER is 7-1 in the last eight meetings). Hey, Bill Belichick, why don’t you start former Patriot QB Scott Zolak? His jersey letter would be apropos…ZZZZZzzzzzzzz….
Toledo/Western Michigan Preview (Wednesday): A pair of solid MAC programs off to 1-0 starts. Toledo senior QB Eli Peters won the starting battle and was terrific in the opener with 4 TDs, 0 picks in a 38-3 wipeout of Bowling Green. He was good last season, too, with 828 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs on a squad that started 6-3 before losing its final three. It’s a balanced offense with fine RBs Shakif Seymour and Bryant Koback. It’s a pretty good Toledo defense, too, with 7 starters back.
They will look to control the ball and the clock against a rival Western Michigan group off a 7-6 campaign that routed Akron last week, 58-13. The guy to watch is sophomore QB Kaleb Eleby. He sat out last season but played in 2018, throwing for 1,092 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs. These teams played a close one a year ago, a 31-24 Toledo win at home as the Rocket ground game was the difference with 275 yards rushing,5.2 ypc. And two years ago on this field, Toledo rolled, 51-24, with 268 yards rushing! The underdog is 10-4 ATS when these MAC rivals clash.
College Football Wrap-Up: Call it the pandemic effect of not having training camp, but Penn State and Michigan probably can’t wait to get back to normal in 2021. Before the season began, Michigan was expected to be a Top 20 team. One question mark entering the year was a retooled offensive line that had lost four of five starters. Well, Michigan just dropped to 1-2 after a 38-21 loss at Indiana rushing for 13 yards on 18 carries…that’s 0.7 yards per rush. Ouch. In fairness, they ran very well in their first two games despite losing to Michigan State, 27-24. But with only five games left — and a date with No. 10 Wisconsin on deck this weekend — Wolverine fans are a disappointed howling pack.
That pales in comparison to the disappointment in (Un)Happy Valley as Penn State dropped to 0-3 after a 35-19 home loss to Maryland as a…(double-ouch) 21-point favorite. They had high expectations but laid an egg Saturday, down 28-7 at the half before a shell-shocked crowd that was long gone by the end.
Let’s get a little Big 10 upbeat, then. Indiana was 2-68 combined against Michigan and Penn State entering this season, but has now vanquished both. Penn State took away the run but Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr. was on the mark: 30-of-50 for 342 yards, 3 TDs, no picks. The Hoosiers are no fluke, either, off an 8-5 2019 campaign where they lost to Tennessee in a bowl by a point and nearly won at Penn State, a 34-27 defeat. This veteran (and talented) group is putting it all together in an impressive 2020 start. They have games against a pair of Top 10 teams (Ohio State, Wisconsin) over the next four weeks.
In the SEC, the Florida Gators made a statement by thrashing No. 5 Georgia, 44-28, scoring 38 first-half points. Who is QB Kyle Trask? He’s not a newcomer, a senior for the Gators who now has 46 TDs, 10 picks in his Gator career. And he’s been sensational this season with 20 TDs, 3 picks, including 8 TDs, one pick against a pair of Top 25 teams (Georgia, Texas A&M). Florida’s offense has been great, now 4-1 OVER the total.
Speaking of Texas A&M, the Aggies are now 5-1, losing to ‘Bama while beating Florida, sitting in the Top 10. They don’t play another Top 25 team until the season finale against Auburn on the road.
Out West, undefeated BYU comes off a rout of No. 21 Boise State, 51-17, and could end the regular season 10-0 with home games versus North Alabama and SDSU. It’s a pity their only other game against a Top 25 team (Army) was canceled back in September. Junior QB Zach Wilson (21 TDs, 2 INTs) is putting up Heisman numbers. The Cougars will be scoreboard watching, hoping a few teams ahead of them in the polls slip up so they can use their claws and climb.
Arizona State was a double-digit underdog that gave USC all it could handle in a 28-27 late Trojan comeback. The Sun Devils powered out 258 yards rushing (6.8 ypc)! A gut-wrenching loss, allowing two late TDs….but not for my clients. I had Arizona State as a coveted Blue Ribbon play, which went 2-1 Saturday (including Florida), part of a nice 5-3 overall college weekend. If you want to join the winning, get on board Jim Hurley’s Network online at VegasSportsMaster.pro, or a free phone call to 1-800-323-4453.
Now let’s move to the NFL, where I had another winning Sunday highlighted by a Bad Dog of the Week (NY Giants) and the AFC West Coast Shootout Side/Total Parlay (Raiders + Over).
Who Needs Home Field? NFL home teams didn’t exactly shine. It started on Thursday night as the visiting Packers crushed the 49ers, 34-17. The Giants, Ravens, and Texans then followed early Sunday by winning away from home while the Chiefs had to hang on for dear life in a 33-31 squeaker against Carolina as a 10-point home chalk.
Carolina must feel snake-bitten. For a 3-6 team they’ve been very competitive, losing to the Bears by 7, the Raiders by 4, at New Orleans by 3, and now at the defending champs by 2. They rolled up 435 yards on the Chiefs, won the turnover battle…and still lost. Coach Matt Ruhle may be little known, but his Temple teams went 2-10, 6-6, 10-4, and 10-3. Then his Baylor teams went 1-11, 7-6, and 11-3 before jumping to the NFL. Despite a four-game skid, the Panthers are on a 4-2 spread run. Maybe this young coach is worth watching closely.
Surging Bills: Seattle shut down the Buffalo Bills’ running game (34 yards on 19 carries) Sunday, but QB Josh Allen picked up the slack with a dazzling performance: 31-of-38 for 415 yards, 3 TDs, no picks. Buffalo won the battle of first-place teams, 44-34, announcing to both the AFC and NFC that they are to be reckoned with. It was a long road trip for Seattle but notice a pattern emerging we’ve seen for many years with the Seahawks: they’re 4-0 SU/3-1 ATS at home this season, 2-2 SU/ATS on the road. They could use anyone from the old Legion of Boom days as this defense continues to get shredded, last in the league in total yards and passing yards allowed. Now 6-2 OVER the total, Legion of Gloom is more like it.