Ness Notes: Monday, Nov 2

by Larry Ness

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."

Sunday NFL highlights: Pittsburgh (7-0) remains the lone NFL unbeaten by winning 28-24 at Baltimore. The Ravens had a 457-221 yardage advantage over the Steelers but had FOUR giveaways, including a 'pick-6!' The NY Jets (0-8) remain the lone winless NFL team with a 35-9 loss at Kansas City (Jets are 1-7 ATS). Dallas led Philadelphia 9-7 at the half Sunday night but went scoreless in the second half and fell 23-9 to the Eagles, remaining a very 'IM-PERFECT' 0-8 ATS. New England (2-5) lost its FOURTH straight (longest skid since 2002), 24-21 at Buffalo. The Bills snapped a SEVEN-game losing streak to New England, which has won the AFC East in each of the last 11 seasons. Buffalo is 6-2. Full Week 8 recap on Tuesday.

MNF: The 5-2 Tampa Bay Bucs are at the 1-6 NY Giants at 8:15 ET on ESPN. Has Tom Brady found "the Fountain of Youth" in Florida? He has thrown 15 TD passes against just ONE interception over his last five games, with Tampa Bay going 4-1 in that stretch (exception being a 20-19 loss at Chicago in Week 5). He's sure being helped out by a Tampa Bay defense allowing the fewest yards in the league (291.3 YPG) and a modest 20.3 PPG. The Giants' lone win of 2020 was a 20-19 victory over Washington, which was sandwiched around a 37-34 loss at Dallas (Week 5) and a 22-21 loss at Philly (Week 7). Tampa Bay is favored by 13 points and the over/under is 45.

CFB recap: There was only ONE game this past weekend in which ranked teams played each other. No. 3 Ohio State was at No. 18 Penn St last Saturday night and the Buckeyes won 38-25, a final that was also good enough for an Ohio St ATS win. That result continued an on-going trend in meetings between ranked teams this season. The higher ranked team has gone 15-1 SU and 14-2 ATS (the lone SU loser was then-No. 3 Florida losing on Oct 10 at then-No. 21 A&M). However, the dynamic of ranked teams against unranked opponents has seen markedly different results. Ranked teams did win 14 of 18 such matchups last weekend but were still a highly unimpressive 10-8 ATS The Y-T-D tally sits as such; ranked teams are 68-22 (.756) SU when taking on an unranked opponent but remain a 'money-burning' 36-53-1 (.404) ATS. Will this trend continue throughout the 2020 season? So far, we are still waiting.

The four ranked teams to lose SU to an unranked opponent were then-No. 6 Oklahoma St 41-34 (OT) at home to Texas, then-No. 13 Michigan 27-24 at home to Michigan St, then-No. 15 North Carolina 44-41 at Virginia and then-No. 16 Kansas St 37-10 at West Va. The Longhorns' win at Oklahoma St was Texas' first win on the road over a top-10 opponent since 2010. First-year Michigan St head coach Mel Tucker joined Nick Saban (1995) as the only two MSU head coaches to beat Michigan in their first-ever try. On the flip side of that rivalry, 'the incomparable' Jim Harbaugh is now 1-6 SU at home against Ohio St and Michigan St (as if those two rivalries mean something to Michigan fans and alumni!). 

New AP poll: Trevor Lawrence was held out of Clemson's game vs Boston College and the Tigers barely survived, coming back from a 28-7 halftime deficit to win 34-28. Clemson had 52 first-place votes the previous week but fell to just 33 on Sunday, edging No. 2 Alabama (29 votes) by just TWO total points. Ohio St remained No. 3 and Notre Dame at No. 4, after the Irish won 31-13 at Ga Tech in less than impressive fashion (note: Notre Dame owns the longest-active winning streak among FBS schools at 12). Speaking of less-than-impressive efforts, Georgia held onto its No. 5 ranking, despite a 14-3 win at Kentucky (the Bulldogs were favored by 17 points).

Cincinnati routed Memphis 49-10 for its 17th straight home win and is ranked No. 6, the school's highest since it finished 4th in the final AP poll of 2009 (can you say Brian Kelly?). BYU handled Western Ky 41-10 and the Cougars moved into the AP top-10 (at No. 9) for the first time since Nov 7, 2009. Indiana is ranked 13th, the school's highest since being ranked 11th in 1987. Okla St fell from No. 6 to No. 16 with its loss to Texas, while Michigan fell from 13th to 23rd with its loss to Michigan St. No. 14 North Carolina, No. 16 Kansas St and No. 18 Penn St all dropped out. Penn St had been ranked for 64 straight polls (not including when it was ineligible earlier this year to be considered), which was the 4th-longest active streak. If interested, the top-three active streaks are Alabama (205), Ohio St (138) and Clemson (94).

New to the poll are Texas (22nd) and Auburn (24th) which are both back in. Auburn routed LSU 48-11! Special mention goes to 6-0 Liberty, which had a bye but moved into the final spot (25th), for the first time in school history. Of course, Liberty is in just its THIRD season as an FBS member. Liberty replaced Coastal Carolina at the No. 25 spot, as just like the Jeffersons, the Chanticleers are "movin' on up!" Coastal Carolina 'trashed' Georgia St 51-0 on the road this past Saturday and are also 6-0 (5-1 ATS) on the season, moving up to No. 15 in the latest poll.

Tuesday's Notes will concentrate on NFL Week 8 and then it's mostly CFB on Wednesday and Thursday, before returning to the NFL on Friday, as the 17-week season hits its midpoint with Week 9.

Good luck...Larry

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