Ness Notes: Monday, Nov 30

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."

MNF: In normal times (we are FAR from that at the present moment), tonight's Seahawks/Eagles game in Philadelphia would close out Week 12 of the NFL. As it stands now, Sunday's game between the Ravens and Steelers has been rescheduled to Tuesday and would stand as the final game of the current week. However, here's the latest. The NFL canceled the Baltimore Ravens' practice for Monday morning. The Ravens are in the midst of one of the biggest outbreaks in professional sports with at least one positive test for the past eight days. Baltimore has officially placed 18 players on the Reserve/COVID-19 list in the past week. As I've been saying all season, "fingers crossed." Getting back to MNF, the 7-3 Seattle Seahawks got some help on Sunday, as the Cards lost 20-17 in New England to the Pats and the 49ers upset the Rams 23-20 in LA. That drops the Rams to 7-4 and the Cards to 6-5. Seattle would move to 8-3 with a win. In stark contrast, Week 12 has NOT gone well for the Eagles, as Washington and the NY Giants both won 19-17, moving to 4-7. That means the 3-6-1 Eagles must win to inch back ahead of their two NFC 'Least' rivals. Kickoff is at 8:15 ET on ESPN  with Seattle favored by 6 1/2-points (over/under is 49). Looking ahead, I'll move my NFL 12 recap to Wednesday.

CFB recap: the week began on Thanksgiving with a game few care about other than the people in Logan, Ut, who saw the Utah State Aggies win for the first time in 2020, 41-27 over New Mexico. The Aggies moved to 1-4 and New Mexico remained winless on the season at 0-5. NINE games were played 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 at No. 25 North Carolina and No. 15 Iowa St at No. 20 Texas. Notre Dame won 31-17 (shut out high-scoring North Carolina in the second half) for its 15th straight win (longest among FBS teams). Iowa St edged Texas 23-20 (first win in Austin since 2010) and is now a near 'lock' to play in the Big 12 title game. No. 1 Alabama would rout No. 19 Auburn 42-13 in the Iron Bowl (Mac Jones threw five TD passes), as the higher ranked team won and covered the only three matchups of the weekend between top-25 opponents. Nothing surprising in those results, as higher ranked teams are now  21-5 (.808) SU and 19-7 (73.1%) ATS in meetings between top-25 opponents in the college football season to-date.

Including Friday's game with No. 9 Oregon visiting Oregon St in the "Civil War" rivalry, 10 ranked teams met unranked opponents (note: six more were either postponed or canceled). Here's what I wrote in last Friday's Notes. 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 games from 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 sat at 105-24 (.814) SU and 61-66-2 (48.0%) ATS. 

I opined, "Can (will) ranked teams finally go over .500 ATS after this Thanksgiving weekend?" The verdict is in and the answer is no. Ranked teams did go 8-2 SU but were just 5-5 ATS. The SU losers were No. 9 Oregon losing 41-38 at Oregon St and No. 11 Northwestern losing 29-20 at Northwestern. Doing the math, ranked teams are now 113-26 (.813) SU but still sub-500 ATS at 66-71-2 (48.2%). Of the six games canceled among the group of ranked vs unranked matchups, NONE had more ramifications than No. 3 Ohio St (No. 4 in the CFP standings) losing its game at Illinois. The Buckeyes are now 4-0 (have had two games canceled) and will HAVE to play their final two games or they will be ineligible for the Big Ten championship. What a development that would be.

The new AP poll was released on Sunday The top-eight remained the same for the FOURTH straight week and to no one's surprise, Alabama got all 62 first-place votes for the second consecutive week. Alabama has now been ranked for 209 straight polls, tying the Florida Gators  *1990-2002) for the third-longest streak in CFB history. Florida State's 211 consecutive weeks (from 1989-2001) is up next but the Tide have a LONG way to go to catch Nebraska's amazing run of 348 weeks from 1981-2002. Remember when Nebraska football mattered? Oregon fell from No. 9 to No. 21, with Miami moving up to No. 9 (from No. 10) and Indiana moving back to No. 10 from No. 12. Washington is No.23 and ranked for the first time this season. No. 24 Iowa opened the season 0-2 but with four straight wins is back in after opening at No. 24 in the preseason poll. Taking the No. 25 spot is Liberty, after falling out last week after a 15-14 loss at NC State. No. 20 Texas, No. 22 Auburn and No. 25 North Carolina all dropped out. Auburn was ranked No. 11 in the preseason and rose to as high as No. 7 this season, Texas opened No. 14 in the preseason and got as high as No. 9 and North Carolina opened the season No. 18 but climbed as high as No. 5. NOT a good week for those programs.

I'm pushing back my NFL Week 12 recap to Wednesday and will feature the highs (still unbeaten CFB teams) and lows (still winless teams) of CFB 2020. The first regular season AP poll of the 2020-21 CBB season will come out Monday and I'll comment on that plus check in on the comings and goings of the first six days of college hoops, so far.

Good luck...Larry

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