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Looking Back Before Moving Forward -- Week 11

   by Scott Spreitzer - 11/13/2005

Chalk Eaters: Last weekend in the NFL was unique in that every single favorite won, including the Monday night game. That's not good news for bookmakers, who take a beating with teasers and parlays when so many favorites win. College football didn't help the rest of the week. Marshall got a cover as a home dog Tuesday, after which the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night college games all found the favorites covering. Friday night, Louisville was bet up from 20 to 22½ and got the money easily in a 56-5 rout of Rutgers.

Petrino's Point-A-Minute Cardinals: Teams don't often have a 10-2 spread record like Louisville had a year ago. The Cardinals were working in a new quarterback this season, so Louisville was expected to come back to earth a bit, especially against the spread. But the Cardinals are 6-3 ATS this season, covering the last three games despite being a 21-point favorite in all three.

Point-A-Month Baylor?: Poor Baylor has looked out of gas the second half of the season. They've certainly been out of offense. The Bears were shut out for two straight weeks, by Texas Tech 28-0 and Texas 62-0. Saturday they got shut out in the first half by Missouri before scoring (and losing) 31-16.

Lightening Striking Twice?: Last week Kansas finally beat Nebraska, ending an incredible 36-year winning streak by the Huskers. On Saturday, Navy tried to end a 41-game losing streak to Notre Dame, as a +23 road dog, but fell short again. By the way, Kansas is 5-1 SU at home, 0-3 Su, 1-2 ATS on the road.

Scheduling Spots: I gave out Ohio State as a big play Saturday against Northwestern for several reasons. One was that Northwestern was off that emotional last minute comeback over Iowa, 28-27. That gave them a 6-3 record, which clinched a bowl. So, emotionally they had no reason to play that hard against the Buckeyes on the road. Throw in the substantial edge in defense, and it was a great spot for a blowout by Ohio State. The Buckeyes ended up with the edge in rushing 313-95 in the 48-7 rout, and a cover by 20 points. Blowout covers are much better than squeakers!

Fresno State at USC: And speaking of ending long streaks, the Bulldogs did so Thursday, topping Boise State in their WAC showdown. Boise had won 31-straight WAC games before getting thumped by this terrific and balanced Fresno squad. Before they can wrap up an undefeated WAC season, Fresno has to play at No. 1 USC Saturday. Fresno gets a chance to end another streak. Many from the Bulldog crowd chanted, "Beat S.C., beat S.C., beat S.C." Be careful what you wish for, I hear this USC team is pretty good!

Penn State at Michigan State: This is an interesting Big 10 battle Saturday. Penn State is rested and in the driver's seat for the Big 10 title, clinching at least a share of the title with a win here. But this is a revenge spot for the Spartans, having lost 37-13 at Penn State a year ago. And the home team is 6-1 ATS the last 7 meetings. Michigan State folded down the stretch a year ago, going 1-4 SU/ATS. After a 4-0 start this season, John L. Smith's team is on a 1-4 SU/ATS slide again. Rumor mongors are already placing Steve Mariucci on the MSU sidelines for 2006. That likely won't happen.

Halftime Stat of the Week: Texas Tech came into Saturday's game against Oklahoma State averaging 47 points per game. Halftime score: Cowboys 14, Red Raiders 0! Why? Halftime rushing yards: Oklahoma State 194, Texas Tech minus-11.

Sizzling Frosh: Last week we told you about Western Michigan's freshman QB Tim Hiller. Against Central Michigan Saturday, Hiller was 11-of-17 for 188 yards, 4 TDs, no picks – in the first half!

Sooners in Search of Defense: What happened to Bob Stoops' defense? Ever since USC flattened them in the bowl game, Oklahoma is allowing 27 ppg. The Sooners gave up 452 yards, including 292 rushing, to Texas A&M Saturday, and that was with Reggie McNeal getting knocked out of the game. Oklahoma gave up 30 and is 7-3 over the total this season.

Halftime Stat of the Week Part II: Was it something we said? Texas led Kansas 52-0 at the half. The Longhorns had the edge in first downs 17-1 and total yards 381-41. No one has hung a hundred in Division I college football that I can recall since Houston beat Tulsa 100-6 in 1968.

Defense versus Offense: Minnesota and Iowa hook up Saturday in a Big 10 battle. The last 12 meetings, Iowa has a stellar 11-1 spread record in this series.

Jittery Quarterbacks: Running an offense is not about putting up great stats, but making the right decisions. I'm not a fan of Georgia Tech QB Reggie Ball, an overrated QB who makes awful decisions, especially when his team needs a big play. Add Cal QB Joe Ayoob to that list. He was terrible against USC with three early interceptions and has had too many games with jittery play. I can see why Jeff Tedford started the season with Ayoob as the No. 2 QB behind Nate Longshore, who broke his leg in the opener.

Clemson Balance: Tommy Bowden has a reputation for being all passing, all the time. However, this season that has changed as he's worked with the offensive coordinator to purposely try for better balance and not throw as much. The Tigers had 269 passing yards and only 85 rushing in Saturday's rout of Florida State, but that was unusual. For the season, Clemson is averaging 240 passing and a strong 150 yards rushing per game. They've also won 4 of 5 to become bowl eligible.

Scrap the National Title Game: Does anyone besides me want to see an alternative to the Texas/USC game? Let's simplify it right before kickoff and have Pete Carroll take on Mack Brown in a 100-yard dash. We'll give Brown a 15-yard head start. Maybe 25.


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