This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."
Thanksgiving recap: Detroit and Dallas traditionally host Thanksgiving games and yesterday, they sure allowed their 'guests' to walk away VERY happy! Detroit head coach Matt Patricia was said to be on the 'hot seat' entering this season and with his record falling to 13-29-1 in his tenure with the Lions, that seat is now likely 'on fire!' The Texans entered the season having won the AFC South FOUR times in the previous five seasons but Thursday's win will do little for them in 2020. Deshaun Watson had a big game, throwing for 318 yards with four TDs and no INTs in the 41-25 victory but Houston is just 4-7 on the season. Watson now has 15 TD passes without a SINGLE interception over his last six games but Houston has gone only 3-3 in that span.
I guess we can no longer say "Hail to the Redskins" but I'll risk it to congratulate the Washington FB Team for moving into first-place in the sad-sack NFC East at 4-7, after its 41-16 win over the "How 'bout dem Cowboys!" One HAS to feel really good for Alex Smith, who is back after nearly losing his leg (AND life) to an injury just over two years ago. He had 390 passing yards in a loss to the Lions back in Week 10 but these last two games, while he's thrown for just 166 and 149 yards (two TDs / two INTS), Washington has won BOTH games. Kudos go to rookie RB Antonio Gibson who ran for 115 yards and three TDs vs Dallas, after gaining 94 yards in the win over Cincy. Plus, "How 'bout that Washington D?" It's allowed just 25 points the last two games on 259.5 YPG. Week 12 resumes Sunday and check out Thursday's Notes for a preview.
The 2020-21 college basketball season tipped off on Wednesday and while there were no games between ranked opponents, 17 ranked schools played unranked opponents 16 of the 17 won, going an impressive 12-5 ATS. No. 22 UCLA (one FINAL reminder for me!) was the only loser, falling 73-58 at San Diego St. SIX top-10 schools played on Wednesday, as No. 3 Villanova, No. 4 Virginia, No. 5 Iowa, No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 8 Illinois and No. 10 Kentucky all won, although 'Nova and Wisconsin failed to cover.
Thanksgiving Day featured two top-25 matchups, the "marquee" one being Gonzaga, the nation's preseason No. 1 team, meeting No. 6 Kansas, which was the AP's No.1 ranked team in last year's "unfinished season." The Bulldogs opened a double-digit lead in the first half and while Kansa tied it up twice in the second half, Gonzaga used a 22-7 run to up 96-78 and win, 102-90. Returning players the 6-10 Timme (25 & 6) and the 6-7b Kispert (23 & 4) plus 6-4 freshman guard Suggs (24-4-8 in his first game), gave the Bulldogs THREE, 20-point scorers (Gonzaga shot 64.5% from the floor). The second top-25 matchup was No. 3 Villanova beating No. 18 Arizona St for the 2K Empire Classic title. No. 8 Illinois and No. 15 West Vs won and covered, giving ranked teams a 18-1 (.947) SU start to the season, while also going 14-5 (73.7%) ATS. Friday does not feature any top-25 matchups but NINE top-25 teams will play, including FIVE top-10 teams. No 1 Gonzaga plays Auburn (-18), No. 5 Iowa is home to Southern (-27), No. 6 Kansas meets St Joe's (-18), No. 7 Wisconsin is home to Arkansas-Pine Bluff (-34) and No. 8 Illinois is home to Ohio U (-17).
The CFB weekend kicks off with NINE games on Friday, with FIVE ranked teams in action, including top-25 matchups (note: I will continue to use the AP rankings, not the CFP ones) between No. 2 Notre Dame (-5.5) at No. 25 North Carolina and No. 15 Iowa St (-1) at No. 20 Texas. Saturday will feature just ONE, top-25 matchup, as No. 1 Alabama (without head coach Nick Saban because of a positive COVID-19 test) hosting No. 22 Auburn in the annual Iron Bowl ('Bama is favored by 25.5). Higher ranked teams are 18-5 SU and 16-7 ATS in meetings between top-25 opponents in the college football season to-date.
Beginning with No. 9 Oregon (-13) playing at Oregon St in the annual "Civil War" on Friday, there are 11 games featuring ranked teams playing unranked teams. Unfortunately, FIVE ranked teams had their games postponed or canceled. That group includes No. 7 Cincinnati, No. 14 Oklahoma at West Va, No. 18 Wisconsin at home to Minnesota, No 19 USC home to Colorado and No. 24 Tulsa at Houston. Top-10 teams that ARE playing unranked opponents include No. 3 Ohio St (-28) at Illinois, No. 4 Clemson (-23.5) home to Pitt, No. 5 Texas A&M (-15) home to LSU, No. 6 Florida (25.5) home to Kentucky and No. 9 Oregon at Oregon St on Friday (see above).
Ranked teams went a perfect 14-0 SU against unranked opponents from Nov 3-7 but still could NOT win more than 50 percent ATS, going 6-7-1. However, when 'all the dust had settled' from the week of Nov 10-15, ranked teams had gone 12-1 SU against unranked opponents (then-No. 19 SMU's loss to Tulsa being the exception) and more significantly, a MONEY-MAKING 11-2 ATS! That trend continued in last week's games (Nov 17-21), as ranked teams went 11-1 SU and a solid 8-4 ATS. That's a three-week run of 37-2 (.949) SU and 25-13-1 (65.8%) ATS. The Y-T-D numbers are 105-24 (.814) SU and 61-66-2 (48.0%) ATS. Can (will) ranked teams finally go over .500 ATS after this Thanksgiving weekend?