Articles

Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball and NFL Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Dec 06, 2020

The Sunday sports card features the start of Week 13 in the National Football League along with a full slate of college basketball, four matches in the English Premier League, and two college football games between FBS opponents.Twelve games are on the docket in the NFL. Seven games begin the card at 1 PM ET. The national broadcast on Fox has New Orleans traveling to Atlanta as a 2-point road favorite with the total set at 45.5 (all odds from BetOnline). The primary game on CBS has Tennessee hosting Cleveland as a 4.5-point favorite with an over/under of 53. Four more games take place in the 4:05 PM ET to 4:20 PM ET window of afternoon games. The national game on CBS has Green Bay playing at home in Lambeau Field as an 8-point favorite with a total of 49.5.Sunday Night Football on NBC has Denver visiting Kansas City with the kickoff at 8:20 PM ET. The Chiefs are a 13-point favorite with the over/under at 51.Two rare games take place in college football on a Sunday, given rescheduling due to COVID complications. At noon ET, Charlotte hosts Western Kentucky as a 2-point favorite, with the total at 46.5. USC plays at home against Washington State at 7:30 PM ET as a 12-point favorite with an over/under of 68. This Pac-12 contest will be on FS1.A busy card in college basketball is on tap for Sunday. Villanova visits Texas at 1 PM ET on ESPN with the Longhorns 2-point favorites with the total set at 132.5. Texas Tech hosts Grambling at 1 PM ET on ESPNU as a 32-point favorite with the over/under at 132.5. At 2 PM ET, Missouri plays at Wichita State on ESPN2 as a 5-point road favorite with a total of 141. St. John’s hosts Stony Brook at 2:30 PM ET on FS1 as a 16.5-point favorite with a total of 146.5. Cincinnati hosts Xavier at 3 PM ET on ESPN. The Bearcats are a 1.5-point favorite with the over/under at 135.5. Oklahoma travels to TCU for a 4 PM ET tip on ESPN2. The Cowboys are 3.5-point road favorites with the total set at 135. Kentucky visits Georgia Tech at 5 PM ET on ESPN. The Wildcats are a 6.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 141.Iowa State plays at home against DePaul on ESPNU at 6 PM ET. The Cyclones are 3.5-point favorites with a total of 148.Four matches take place in the English Premier League, with all of them broadcast on the NBC Peacock app. At 7 AM ET, Crystal Palace visits West Bromwich as a -0.25 goal line road favorite with the total set at 2.25. Leicester City plays at Sheffield United for a match at 9:15 PM ET as a -0.5 goal line road favorite with an over/under of 2.5. Tottenham hosts Arsenal at 11:30 AM ET as a -0.5 goal line favorite with the total at 2.5. Liverpool plays at home at 2:15 PM ET against Wolverhampton as a -1 goal line favorite with an over/under of 2.75.

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NFL Sunday Night Football: Broncos/Chiefs Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Dec 06, 2020

The Sunday night game on NBC features a rematch between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. The reigning Super Bowl champions won the first meeting between these two teams on October 25th with a 43-16 victory in Denver as a 7-point favorite. Kansas City is cruising on their way to winning the AFC West with a six-game winning streak. With their 10-1 record, the Chiefs are hot on the trails of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who currently hold the top seed in the AFC playoff race with their undefeated record. Only the number one seeds in both conferences are awarded byes in the first round of the playoffs, given the new expansion to a seventh team.Kansas City defeated Tampa Bay on the road last Sunday by a 27-24 score as a 3.5-point favorite. The Chiefs went into the fourth quarter with a 27-10 lead before the Buccaneers scored two touchdowns in the final 15 minutes. Patrick Mahomes led the offense to 543 yards in the victory. He completed 37 of his 49 passes for 462 yards with three touchdown passes while adding another 28 yards on the ground. Mahomes is completing 68.8% of his passes this season for 3497 yards with 30 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. He has also rushed for another 215 yards with two touchdowns. Denver lost their third game in their last four games last week in a 31-3 loss at home to New Orleans in a game where all three of their quarterbacks were unavailable to play because of COVID protocols. Wide receiver Kendall Hinton came off the practice squad to attempt nine passes in that game but completed only one for 13 yards. He also tossed two interceptions. The Broncos managed only 112 yards of offense without a credible passing threat. With a 4-7 record, Denver’s playoff hopes are slim. They trail Indianapolis and Miami for the final spot in the AFC playoff race by three games. The Broncos begin a stretch where three of their next four games are on the road. Drew Lock will be back under center after being cleared from COVID quarantine. He may be playing for his job the rest of the season after completing only 55.6% of his passes for 1767 yards with a 6.6 yards-per-attempt average. Lock has only thrown seven touchdown passes while tossing 11 interceptions. Denver will be without their best cover cornerback after Bryce Callahan was placed on Injured Reserve with a foot injury this week. He joins linebacker Von Miller, defensive linemen Jurrell Casey and Mike Purcell, and wide receiver Courtland Sutton who are already on IR. Safety Trey Marshall is out with a shin injury. Running back Phillip Lindsay, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, and linebacker Malik Reed are all listed as questionable but with the signs indicating they will play. Kansas City only has running back Clyde Edwards-Hellaire on their Injured List after he missed the last two practices with a non-COVID illness. He will be a game-time decision. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz remains on the IR. BetAnySports lists the Chiefs as a 13-point favorite with the total set at 51. Kickoff is at 8:20 PM ET.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL, NCAA Basketball and NCAA Football Preview

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, Dec 05, 2020

The Saturday sports card features a full day of college football and college basketball action along with the start of Matchweek 11 of the English Premier League. Forty games between FBS opponents are on the college football schedule. There were 14 games either canceled or postponed due to COVID issues: Wake Forest/Louisville; Alabama/Arkansas; Northwestern/Minnesota; Maryland/Michigan; Mississippi/LSU; Missouri/Mississippi State; Miami (FL)/Wake Forest; Florida State/Duke; Kent State/Miami (OH); Houston/SMU; FIU/Charlotte; Liberty/Coastal Carolina; Vanderbilt/Georgia; Buffalo/Ohio.Seventeen college football games take place in the noon ET to 3 PM ET window. Eleven games kick off the card at noon ET. Ohio State travels to Michigan State on ABC as a 23.5-point road favorite with the total set at 59.5 (all odds from BetOnline). Texas visits Kansas State on Fox with the Longhorns a 7-point road favorite with an over/under of 51. Texas A&M plays at Auburn on ESPN as a 5.5-point road favorite with a total of 48. Penn State goes on the road to play Rutgers on FS1 as an 11.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 52.5. Texas Tech hosts Kansas on FS2 as a 25-point favorite with the total at 62.5. Oklahoma State visits TCU as a 2.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 51.5. At 2 PM ET, Ball State travels to Central Michigan on ESPNU as a 2-point road favorite with an over/under of 62.5. Notre Dame plays at home against Syracuse on NBC at 2:30 PM ET as a 33.5-point favorite with the total at 51.Another 12 games go off in the 3:30 PM ET to 6 PM ET window of games. Six games are scheduled at 3:30 PM ET. Wisconsin hosts Indiana on ABC as a 13-point favorite with the total set at 44.5. Florida visits Tennessee on CBS as a 17.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 62.5. Iowa State plays at home against West Virginia on ESPN as a 6.5-point favorite with the total at 49. Iowa plays at Illinois on FS1 as a 13.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 51.5. Tulsa travels to Navy on ESPN2 as a 12-point road favorite with a total of 45.5.At 4 PM ET, Washington hosts Stanford as an 11.5-point favorite with a total of 49. BYU travels to Coastal Carolina at 5:30 PM ET in a rescheduled game between these two undefeated Group of Five programs that had games canceled because of COVID this week. The Cougars are 10.5-point road favorites with an over/under of 62. ESPNU broadcasts the game. Eight games take place between 7 PM ET to 8 PM ET. Oregon travels to California at 7 PM ET on ESPN with the Ducks' 9-point road favorites with a total of 60. San Diego State hosts Colorado State on the CBS Sports Network as a 7-point favorite with the over/under at 45.5. Colorado visits Arizona on FS1 as a 7.5-point favorite, with the total set at 57.5. At 7:30 PM ET, Clemson travels to Virginia Tech on ABC as a 21.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 66. Alabama visits LSU at 8 PM ET on CBS as a 29.5-point road favorite with the total at 66. Oklahoma hosts Baylor on Fox as a 21.5-point favorite with an over/under of 61.5.Four final games kick off at 10:30 PM ET. Utah hosts Oregon State on ESPN as an 11-point favorite with the total set at 51.5. Arizona State plays at home against UCLA as a 3-point favorite with an over/under of 56. Nevada has Fresno State visiting Reno on FS2, where they are laying 6.5 points as the favorite with a total of 59. Wyoming visits New Mexico in their relocated home in Las Vegas as a 17.5-point road favorite with the over/under at 52.There is only one college basketball game on national television, yet it is a marquee matchup between the #1 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs versus the #2 ranked Baylor Bears. Gonzaga is a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 160. This game tips off at 1 pm on a neutral court at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. CBS has the broadcast. Matchweek 11 of the English Premier League has four matches. At 7:30 AM ET on the NBC Sports Network, Everton visits Burnley as a -0.5 goal line road favorite with the total set at 2.5. Manchester City hosts Fulham on the NBC Sports Network at 10 AM ET with the goal line pending and an over/under of 3.75. Manchester United travels to West Ham United at 12:30 PM ET on NBC as a -0.5 goal line road favorite with the total at 2.75. Chelsea hosts Leeds United at 3 PM ET on the NBC Sports Network as a -1 goal line favorite with the over/under at 3.25.

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Ness Notes: Friday Nov 4

by Larry Ness

Friday, Dec 04, 2020

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."CBB: There were no games between ranked opponents on Thursday and there are not any scheduled for Friday (higher ranked teams are 5-3 SU but 3-5 ATS when facing a ranked opponent). Four ranked teams were in action on Thursday against unranked opponents, No. 3 Iowa, No. 7 Kansas, No. 16 Va Tech and No. 25 Arizona St. All four won and three of the four covered, led by Iowa's 99-58 romp over Western Illinois. Luka Garza had 30 points in the first half and 'settled' for 35 points and 10 rebounds (he's averaging 34.0 & 9.7 on the season). Ranked teams are off to an impressive 51-5 (.918) SU start, while going 34-20-2 (63.0%) ATS when facing an unranked opponent. Friday will feature SEVEN games between ranked and unranked opponents, including FOUR top-10 teams. No. 4 Wisconsin (-4 1/2) will be on the road at Marquette, No. 6 Duke (-29) welcomes Bellarmine (?) to a fan-less Cameron Indoor Stadium, No. 8 Michigan St (-25 1/2), off its win at Duke, hosts Detroit Mercy and Creighton (-34) takes on Kennesaw St in Omaha. No. 15 Virginia, No. 17 Texas Tech and No. 21 Oregon are also on the court in Friday's action.Big news in CFB came our way on Thursday. The College Football Playoff selection committee made it clear in each of its first two rankings that BYU's weak schedule was keeping it outside the top-10. The Cougars play as an Independent and had planned a 2020 schedule which included three Pac-12 teams, two Big Ten teams and one SEC team (it was being touted as the strongest in the program's storied history). However, BYU had to build a schedule from scratch when the Big Ten and Pac 12 postponed their respective seasons in August and the SEC decided to play a conference-only schedule. What remained was a slate that did not have any Power 5 schools.  BYU's strength of schedule is currently No. 87 with only three wins against FBS teams over .500. BYU's athletic director Tom Holmoe felt a sense of urgency to try to quickly schedule another quality opponent and an "incredible opportunity" arose this week, when BYU was able to replace Liberty as Coastal Carolina's opponent on Saturday, after COVID-19 issues prevented the Flames from playing in the game. The game was put together at warp speed, as Holmoe said he first learned of Liberty's precarious position on Wednesday morning but it wasn't until Thursday morning that the game became official. 9-0 BYU is No. 8 in the AP poll but just 13th in the CFP standings and 9-0 Coastal Carolina is No. 14 in the AP and No. 18 in CFP. BYU can't possibly expect that a win at Coastal Carolina will vault them into 'Final Four' territory but a win and then a win Dec 12 against San Diego St could earn them one of the more lucrative bowl bids. Then again, I am reminded of that old proverb that says, "Be careful what you wish for!" BYU is favored by 10 points.The longest Week 12 in NFL history (began on Thanksgiving) finally ended this past Wednesday when the Steelers beat the Ravens 19-14. Home teams finished the week just 5-11 SU but 8-8 ATS, as home dogs contributed a 6-3 ATS mark. Home teams are barely over .500 for the season, entering Week 13 at 90-86-1 (.511) SU  but below .500 ATS (85-90-2 or 48.6%). Home underdogs have 'saved' home teams in 2020, going just 19-44 (.302) SU but 35-26-2 (57.8%) ATS. Week 12 games averaged 47.4 PPG with 10 of the 16 staying under. there have now been 87 overs, 86 unders and four pushes Y-T-D.The 4-8 Carolina Panthers and the 7-5 Tampa Bucs have byes this week, completing the bye weeks for NFL 2020. The other 30 teams (15 games) are all 'working' in Week 13, as all 32 teams will have played 12 games by week's end. There was no Thursday game to kick things off and the week has added a second MNF game (Washington at Pittsburgh) and a Tuesday game (Dallas at Baltimore) because of last week's Ravens/Steelers game being pushed all the way back to Wednesday.NFL Week 13: Let's start at the top and the bottom! The Pittsburgh Steelers are 11-0 and the New York Jets are 0-11. The Steelers will play the "early game" on Monday, when they host 4-7 Washington. Pittsburgh has an 8-3 ATS record to go along with its 11-0 start and ironically, will be facing another division leader in Washington. Yes, at 4-7, Washington (6-5 ATS) is tied with the Giants atop the NFC East, with last year's NFC East winner, Philadelphia, lurking at 3-7-1. You CAN'T make this up! Washington has been off since a 41-16 win over Dallas on Thanksgiving, giving them 11 days between games, compared with five days between games for Pittsburgh. However, Pittsburgh is favored by 8 1/2- points and the over/under is 42. The Jets have lost 11 straight games in the same season for the first time in club history and they are now just ONE loss from matching their longest losing streak ever, a 12-game skid that bridged the 1995-96 seasons. The Jets will host the Las Vegas Raiders, who fell to 6-5 after suffering an ugly 43-6 loss in Atlanta. Las Vegas is in a battle with Miami, Indianapolis and Baltimore for the final two wild card spots in the AFC and just maybe, the 'schedule gods' did the Raiders a huge favor with a game against the Jets. Sam Darnold played for the first time since aggravating a right shoulder injury in a 35-9 loss to Kansas City back on Nov 1 and was 16-of-27 for 197 yards and was intercepted twice in the loss to the Dolphins. However, head coach Adam Gase said he will stick with him as the starter over veteran Joe Flacco. Why not? After all, Darnold hasn't thrown a TD pass in 19 quarters and his 64.0 QB rating is the worst among qualifying quarterbacks. The Raiders are favored by nine points and the over/under is 47.Only Pittsburgh has a better record than the defending champion Chiefs, who are 10-1 but just 6-5 ATS. Led by Patrick Mahomes (30 TD passes and just two INTs in 423 attempts / 115.5 QB rating). The Chiefs will welcome 4-7 Denver to Arrowhead Stadium for SNF.  I'm sure all are aware of what happened with the Denver QB situation last Sunday but it's likely that ONE of the four QBs with NFL experience will line up under center this Sunday. Will it really matter? The Chiefs are favored by 14 points and the over/under is 51. Battling for the No. 1 seed in the NFC are the 9-2 Saints and the 8-3 Packers. New Orleans has won EIGHT games in a row to take a 2 1/2-game lead over Tampa Bay atop the NFC South and a one-game lead over Green Bay atop the conference. The Saints beat the Falcons 24-9 two weeks ago in Taysom Hill's first start at QB in place of Drew Brees. The Saints are favored by three points and the over/under is 45. The Packers are home vs the 3-7-1 Eagles, who will be rooting for Pittsburgh to beat Washington and for Seattle to beat the Giants, as well as trying to slow down Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. Rodgers is having a Mahomes-like season with 33 TD passes and just four INTs in 381 attempts. In fact, Rodgers' QB rating is the best in the NFL at 117.6. The Packers are favored by nine points and the over/under is 47 1/2.A number of other games of note are the 8-3 Browns at the 8-3 Titans (Tenn is favored by 5 1/2-points & the ov/un is 53 1/2) with Cleveland in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Can it really be? Tennessee leads the Colts by one game in the AFC South and is favored by points and the over/under is. The 7-4 Rams are at the 6-5 Cards (Rams are -3 & ov/un is 48), with both teams looking up at the 8-3 Seahawks in the NFC West. The Seahawks (-10 with an over/under of 47 1/2) host the 4-7 Giants, who as noted earlier, are in a three-way battle in the NFC East with Washington and Philadelphia. Oh, the drama.Good luck...Larry 

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NCAA Saturday Night Football: Clemson/Virginia Tech Preview

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Dec 04, 2020

The Saturday night game on ABC features a must-win game for the Clemson Tigers. A victory for Dabo Swinney’s team clinches their spot in the ACC championship game in a rematch with Notre Dame, who handed them their only loss this season. But a talented yet underachieving Virginia Tech team still stands in their way in this showdown in Blacksburg.The Tigers rebounded from their 47-40 loss to the Fighting Irish in South Bend last week by defeating Pittsburgh by a 52-17 score as a 24-point favorite. Clemson generated 581 yards of offense while holding the Panthers to only 246 yards. The Tigers also benefited from a +4 net turnover margin.Junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence did not miss a beat returning to the field after missing the last two games after testing positive for COVID. Lawrence completed 26 of 37 passes for 403 yards with two touchdowns passes. He is completing 70.6% of his passes this season for 2236 yards with 19 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. Virginia Tech started the season with a 4-2 record after losing at North Carolina and Wake Forest. Yet they have since endured three straight upset losses to Liberty, Miami (FL), and then at Pittsburgh two weeks ago by a 47-14 score as a 6.5-point favorite. The losses to the Flames and Hurricanes were by only four combined points before things fell apart against the Panthers. Expectations were very high this year for head coach Justin Fuente in the fifth year with this program. With 18 starters back from the team that finished 8-5 while winning six of their last eight games after Fuente tapped Hendon Hooker as his starting quarterback, some observers considered this Hokies group to be his best yet in Blacksburg. COVID outbreaks and player defections have been unexpected obstacles for the program. The Virginia Tech defense has been the biggest disappointment for this team. Long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster retired while seemingly leaving the cupboard full with ten starters back from a unit that allowed 363.3 yards-per-game, which ranked 42nd in the nation. Rather than improving on those numbers, this defense has taken a step or two back by allowing their opponents to score 32.6 points-per-game and average 462.1 yards-per-game, with the latter number ranking 109th of the 127 competing FBS teams.Virginia Tech could salvage something positive this year if they could spoil Clemson’s season by pulling the upset. The Hokies are ninth in the nation by averaging 250.9 rushing yards-per-game led by Hooker and Kansas grad transfer Khalil Herbert at running back. Virginia has won all four of their games this season when they rush for at least 260 yards. Yet this Tigers’ defense is third in the nation by holding their opponents to 102.6 rushing yards-per-game. The last time Clemson allowed 260 rushing yards was against Louisville in October of 2016. BookMaker lists Clemson as a 22-point road favorite with the total set at 67.  The ABC broadcast begins at 7:30 PM ET.

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NCAA Friday Night Football: Louisiana/Appalachian State Preview

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Dec 04, 2020

The Friday night game on ESPN is a rematch of the last two conference championship games in the Sun Belt Conference. Appalachian State defeated Louisiana-Lafayette in the 2018 conference championship game by a 30-19 score. The Mountaineers followed that victory up last year with their second-straight conference championship in a 45-38 win over the Ragin’ Cajuns. Appalachian State won both of those games at home in Boone, North Carolina, which is once again the site for this showdown.Louisiana returned 14 starters from last year’s team that finished 11-3 with a 27-17 victory over Miami (OH) in the Lending Tree Bowl. The Ragin’ Cajuns have clinched their third straight appearance in the Sun Belt Conference championship game with an 8-1 season. Louisiana’s lone loss was against Coastal Carolina, which they will get to avenge in this year’s Sun Belt championship game on December 19th. But first, the Ragin’ Cajuns have the opportunity to settle some past business in this revenge opportunity. The Ragin’ Cajuns come off a 70-20 victory at Louisiana-Monroe last week as a four-touchdown favorite. Senior quarterback Levi Lewis completed 18 of 25 passes for 147 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Lewis is completing 62.2% of his passes this season for 2027 yards with 16 touchdown passes but along with seven interceptions. Lewis has added 233 rushing yards on the ground on a 6.3 yards-per-carry average with another five touchdowns. Lewis hands off to running backs Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas, who have each rushed for more than 600 yards. The Ragin’ Cajuns average 5.8 yards-per-carry as a team, which is the sixth-highest mark in the nation.Appalachian State responded to their 34-23 loss at Coastal Carolina two weeks ago with a 47-10 victory at home against Troy last Saturday as a two-touchdown favorite. While the Mountaineers cannot defend their conference championship, they can still improve their standing for a bowl bid in this high-profile matchup. Appalachian State is 7-2 on the year, with their other loss being a 17-7 setback at Marshall. Senior quarterback Zac Thomas completed 22 of 29 passes of 279 yards with four touchdown passes last week in the win over the Trojans. Thomas is completing 66.7 points-per-game this season for 1775 yards with 17 touchdown passes but also with eight interceptions. He has added 273 yards on the ground with another two touchdowns. Thomas leads an offense that is seventh in the nation by averaging 256.4 yards-per-game. Yet the Mountaineers put up six fewer points-per-game than their 38.8 points-per-game clip last season. The weather may play a role in this game, with temperatures expected to drop to the low-30s Friday night in Boone. Rain and perhaps snow are in the forecast with winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour. COVID restrictions will limit the attendance to a capacity of 2170 for this game. BetOnline lists Appalachian State as a 3-point favorite with an over/under of 51.5. The ESPN broadcast starts at 8:30 PM ET.

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Big 10 Football Report - Week 7

by ASA, Inc.

Friday, Dec 04, 2020

INDIANA @ WISCONSIN (OPEN -11 to CURRENT -14) – Saturday, December 5th  INDIANA – The Hoosiers were in a tough spot on Saturday taking on Maryland at home just a week after their biggest game of the season @ Ohio State.  They came out lethargic as was expected and led Maryland 7-3 at half.  The Hoosiers punted on 6 of their 7 first half possessions which was the same number of punts they had the entire game vs Ohio State.  They regrouped and played much better in the 2nd half with 209 of their 349 total yards and 20 of their 27 points coming after the break.  The 27-11 win and cover moved the Hoosiers to 5-1 SU on the season and a perfect 6-0 ATS and they have covered those 6 games by an average of 11.5 points per game.  The big news here is IU QB Penix injury last week.  He left late in the 3rd quarter with a leg injury and it has since been determined he tore his ACL and is out for the season.  Huge loss for IU who have very little experience behind him.  That is why this line jumped from -11 to -14 after the announcement he was out.  His back up is Jack Tuttle who has attempted 16 passes in his career, 5 of those coming last week in relief of Penix.  Offensively HC Tom Allen made an interesting move and decided to lean on his running game and he may have to continue with that.  It had been non-existent coming into the game (76 YPG rushing before last week).  After rushing for just 380 total yards in their first 5 games, Indiana put up 234 yards on 48 carries Saturday.  They only attempted 24 passes just one week after Penix threw for a career high vs OSU.  On defense they picked up 3 more takeaways and now rank 5th nationally with 18.  IU’s turnover margin on the season is +9 which is leads the Big 10 and is 2nd nationally.  INDIANA NEXT UP – Home vs Purdue  WISCONSIN – Wisconsin’s home game vs Minnesota last week was cancelled due to Covid issues in the Gopher program.  That means the Badgers have now had 3 games cancelled and they no longer qualify for the Big 10 Championship game as they will only play a maximum of 5 regular season games if all are played (need 6 to qualify).  The Badgers went into their most recent game @ Northwestern really short handed at the WR position.  Both starters (Davis & Pryor) were out so Wisconsin relied on a true freshman and 2 walk on seniors for most of the game at the WR position.  Northwestern is not the defense you want to face if your offense is not at full strength.  UW really struggled to throw the ball and freshman QB Mertz was not in synch with his new receivers.  He barely completed 50% of his passes and was under constant pressure from the NW defense.  Mertz threw 3 interceptions and had a fumble accounting for 4 of Wisconsin’s 5 turnovers.  The Badgers actually did outgain Northwestern by nearly 100 yards but were only able to find the endzone one time.  The 7 points scored was just the 2nd time since October of 2016 that the Badgers were held to single digits on the scoreboard.  The defense was outstanding once again limiting the Wildcats to less than 4.0 YPP and only 1.0 YPC on the ground.  Trailing 14-7 at half, the UW defense forced the Cats to 5 straight 3 & outs to start the 2nd half but the Badger offense could not take advantage.  After 3 games the defense now ranks #1 nationally in total defense, #3 in scoring defense, rush defense, and pass defense.    WISCONSIN NEXT UP - @ Iowa  MOST RECENT MEETING – These 2 have only met twice since the end of the 2012 season.  The most recent meeting was back in 2017 when the Badgers rolled over Indiana 45-17 as 10.5 point favorites.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – These 2 haven’t faced off many times recently (just twice since 2012) but when they have, Wisconsin has dominated.  The Badgers have won 10 in a row vs IU with 9 of those wins coming by at least 17 points.  Wisconsin is also 8-1 ATS their last 9 meetings with the Hoosiers.   PENN STATE (-9.5 OPEN to -11 CURRENT) @ RUTGERS – Saturday, December 5th  PENN STATE – We thought last Saturday might definitely be a flat spot for PSU.  They were coming off a 20-point home loss vs Iowa and we felt after starting 0-5 if they were ever going to rally and pick up a win it would be home.  We stayed off the game completely but they proved our initial thoughts wrong with a 27-17 win @ Michigan.  The Nittany Lions dominated the stat sheet and never trailed in the game.  So what was the difference for PSU this week?  No turnovers!  We mentioned in last week’s report that if they could avoid the giveaways they have a chance to be a decent team.  They had been outgaining their opponents on the year but entered their game vs Michigan with 13 turnovers already this season.  That changed on Saturday and they picked up their first win.  They also had a huge edge on 3rd down converting 50% of the time to just 33% for Michigan and that allowed PSU to run 24 more offensive snaps in the game.  The defense was helped out by Michigan QB McNamara injuring his shoulder early in the game (he continued to play) but was solid holding the Wolverines to 286 total yards.  Despite their 1-5 record, the Nittany Lions rank 3rd in the Big 10 in total offense and 4th in total defense.  PENN STATE NEXT UP – Home vs Michigan State  RUTGERS – We were on Purdue last week at home vs Rutgers and felt it was a fantastic spot to play on the Boilers at home and against the Knights coming off a 3 OT loss a week earlier.  There were a number of other factors involved in our decision as well and it looked great at halftime with Purdue (-11) up 23-13.  The turning point in the 2nd half was after Purdue scored a TD to go up 30-20 and Rutgers then proceeded to return the kickoff 100 yards for a TD to cut the lead to 3.  There was still over 9:00 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter at that point and Rutgers dominated from that point on winning 37-30.  After the big kickoff return, Rutgers outscored Purdue 10-0 and outgained them 123 to 50 and outrushed them 117 to 12 (minus kneel downs at end of game) to close out the game.  HC Schiano had a great offensive game plan coming in.  Starting QB Vedral did not play (we heard he was banged up but felt he’d play) and that final decision was made in warm ups.  Schiano then decided to rotate his back up QB’s with Sitkowski (the better passer) and Langan (the better runner) keeping Purdue’s defense off balance for much of the 2nd half.  The Rutgers defense struggled in the first half allowing 23 points on 290 yards to the Boilermakers.  They came out with much better energy in the 2nd half limiting Purdue to just 1 TD on 122 total yards.  One thing we know is this team has no quit.  If they were going to have a letdown, this was the spot and battling back from 10 points down at half speaks volumes about what Schiano has done with this program in a very short time.    RUTGERS NEXT UP – @ Maryland  MOST RECENT MEETING – Another huge point spread swing.  Last year PSU was a 38.5 point favorite at home vs Rutgers and now they are only -11 on the road.  Penn State won last year’s game 27-6 but they were actually outgained by 50 yards by a bad Rutgers offense.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – PSU is 6-0 SU in this series but Rutgers has covered 4 of those games.  The Nittany Lions are 14-7-1 ATS as a road favorite of more than 7 points dating back to October of 1999.  IOWA (-12 OPEN to -13.5 CURRENT) @ ILLINOIS – Saturday, December 5th  IOWA – We felt Iowa might have been a bit overvalued coming into last week’s match up with Nebraska.  They had won 3 straight games in blowout fashion, however the offense wasn’t putting up impressive yardage.  The Hawkeyes were +7 in TO margin in those 3 wins which was a big reason they were winning comfortably.  Last Friday they had another so-so game offensive as far as yardage goes (322 total yards) and nipped Nebraska 26-20.  With the game tied 13-13 at half the Huskers (+13) used an up tempo offense and scored a TD on their opening drive of the 2nd half to take a 20-13 lead.  It was the first Iowa deficit in this game and just the 2nd time in the last 4 games (including this match up) the Hawkeyes had been behind on the scoreboard.  In fact, the previous 3 games prior to Saturday Iowa had trailed for a grand total of 2 minutes and 50 seconds.  The Iowa defense was playing very well coming in allowing only 35 total points in their previous 3 games and they came up big late in this one.  With Iowa leading 26-20 and Nebraska driving in Iowa territory with 2:00 minutes remaining, the defense came up with a big sack, fumble recovery on Nebraska QB Martinez to solidify the win.  After the game Nebraska HC Frost called out the Iowa sidelines for clapping during the game which he felt threw off his offense at the line of scrimmage.  Iowa HC Kirk Ferentz shot back basically saying it was a ridiculous claim.  Something to remember when these 2 face off next season.      IOWA NEXT UP – Home vs Wisconsin  ILLINOIS – The Illini, as have many other Big 10 team this season, had an unscheduled bye last week when their home game vs OSU was cancelled due to a covid outbreak with the Buckeyes.  The week prior to that Illinois pulled a big upset topping Nebraska 41-23 as a 17-point underdog.  The Illini finally got starting QB Peters back in that game after he had missed 3 straight games due to Covid.  He stepped in and didn’t miss a beat throwing for 205 yards while rushing for another 36 in Illinois’ upset win at Nebraska.  It was the 3rd time already this year that a Big 10 underdog of 17 points or more won the game outright!  It was the 2nd huge upset for the Illini in the span of year as they beat Wisconsin last season as a 29-point dog.  Prior to last year’s win over Wisconsin and this year’s win over Nebraska, the Illini had been an underdog of 17 points or more 55 times since 1980 winning just TWO of those games outright.  Illinois has some momentum entering this game with 2 straight wins after starting the season 0-3.  They’ve outgained each of their last 2 opponents and they’ve really started to lean on their running game with 623 yards on the ground the last 2 weeks, including gashing the Huskers for 385 rushing.  They may have to look toward the passing game a bit more here facing an Iowa defense that allows only 2.8 YPC, the best mark in the Big 10.     ILLINOIS NEXT UP – @ Northwestern  MOST RECENT MEETING – Last year Iowa was a 15 point home favorite in this rivalry and won 19-10.  The yardage was close to even in the game that featured only 2 TD’s and 5 FG’s.    POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Iowa has dominated this series winning 11 of the last 12 meetings (7-4 ATS).  This is the 4th time already this season Iowa has been tabbed a road favorite (2-1 ATS).  They are now 19-5 ATS the last 24 times they’ve been favored on the road dating back to late 2011.    NEBRASKA @ PURDUE (-1 OPEN to -2 CURRENT) – Saturday, December 5th  NEBRASKA – The Huskers have been a tough team to predict this season.  They’ve been up and down to say the least.  Three weeks ago they were up, playing Northwestern to the wire (21-13 loss) and outgaining the Cats by 125 yards.  Two weeks ago they were down, getting rolled 41-23 by Illinois as a 17 point favorite.  Last week, they were up again despite their 26-20 loss @ Iowa.  The offense outgained Iowa by 16 yards despite running 12 fewer plays.  However, as the old football cliché goes, if you have 2 QB’s you have no QB, may apply here.  HC Scott Frost went back to Adrian Martinez under center this week to start the game after Luke McCaffrey started the prior week vs Illinois.  While Martinez got the start and played pretty well completing 18 of his 20 passes, Frost also rotated McCaffrey in for 18 snaps, 5 of which were designed QB runs.  He had 42 yards rushing on those 5 attempts.  Even though not a great passer, Martinez gives them the much better throwing option while being able to run as well.  We would anticipate Martinez to be the starter while sprinkling in McCaffrey from time to time.  One thing we do know is, the RB’s for Nebraska have been almost non-existent.  Starting RB Mills has been out the last few games which hasn’t helped.  As a whole the RB’s have carried the ball 65 times for 205 yards (3.1 YPC) this season.  Meanwhile the QB’s have combined for 583 rushing yards on 101 carries (5.7 YPC).  They need to get more production out of their RB’s to take some pressure off the QB’s.    NEBRASKA NEXT UP – Home vs Minnesota  PURDUE – Purdue was in a great spot at halftime last week leading Rutgers 23-13 but proceeded to get outscored 24-7 in the second half in their 37-30 home loss.  It was a disappointing loss for us as well as we backed Purdue as an 11-point favorite.  Thought it was a great spot for them and we were wrong.  We overestimated the Boilers and definitely underestimated Rutgers.  Purdue came in with a decent run defense but not a great pass defense which we felt matched up well in this game.  However, in the 2nd half Rutgers made a decision to pound the ball on the ground and Purdue couldn’t stop them.  The Knights ran the ball 28 times after halftime while attempting only 8 passes.  Back up QB Langan basically ran the read option the entire time he was in and even though everyone knew what was coming, Purdue allowed him to rush for 95 yards.  On their final possession, Rutgers took over with 5:26 remaining in the game and ran out the entire clock not passing the ball once.  The Purdue defense couldn’t get off the field allowing Rutgers to convert on 11 of their 20 third/fourth downs in the game (55%).  Rutgers entered the game converting only 36% of their third/fourth down attempts on the season.  Because of the dominance on the ground for Rutgers, the Purdue offense only ran 23 plays the entire 2nd half after running 45 snaps in the first half.  Thus, the Boilermaker offense that looked very good in the first half just didn’t have many opportunities to eventually pull away in this game when they did have the 10 point lead. NOTE – After this was written, Purdue had some players opt out for the rest of the season.  That happened on Thursday of this week.  Not a great sign.  Need to find out who they are.    PURDUE NEXT UP - @ Indiana  MOST RECENT MEETING – Purdue was a 4 point underdog at home in this game last year and pulled off the 31-27 upset.  The Boilers were -2 on the TO margin in that game but still were able to win outgaining Nebraska by 75 yards.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – Purdue has covered 5 of the last 6 in this Big 10 series.  The Huskers are 0-1 ATS this year and 2-7 ATS since 2011 in the 2nd game of back to back road contests.  Since 1985, Nebraska has been an underdog of 3 points or less 23 times.  They are 7-15-1 ATS in those games.  OHIO STATE (-23 OPEN to -23.5 CURRENT) @ MICHIGAN STATE – Saturday, December 5th  OHIO STATE – The Buckeyes have played just 1 game since November 7th with last week’s contest @ Illinois getting cancelled due to a covid outbreak at OSU.  This game was in doubt earlier in the week as the Buckeyes were waiting on more testing and conducting contact tracing.  Head coach Ryan Day will not be at this game as he hasn’t been cleared after contracting covid.  Not much room for error any more for the Bucks as they can’t miss another game and remain eligible for a spot in the Big 10 Championship.  Although, the Big 10 AD’s have now been mentioning tweaking their original rules (must play at least 6 games) so that the Buckeyes wouldn’t be left out of the Final 4 if they run the table.  There will be a number of players out for this game as they are still involved in the 21 day waiting period implemented by the Big 10.  Finding out who they are is always difficult as the teams are not required to release that information.  The OSU offense is obviously fantastic.  They’ve score at least 38 points in every game and they are averaging 45 PPG (7th nationally).  The defense is down this year.  Especially vs the pass.  In their most recent game IU QB Penix, who is now out for the year with an ACL injury, threw for nearly 500 yards which was the 4th highest total in history vs the Buckeye defense.   The OSU pass defense now ranks dead last in the Big 10 and 117th nationally allowing 291 YPG.  Maybe not a big deal as they close out the season vs MSU & Michigan who don’t have top notch QB’s, but something to watch when the competition ramps up if OSU makes the College Football Playoff.  OHIO STATE NEXT UP – Home vs Michigan  MICHIGAN STATE – This MSU team has been all over the map this season.  They lost at home vs Rutgers to open the season partly due to 7 Sparty turnovers in that one.  The beat rival Michigan on the road the following week, got smoked by Iowa & Indiana in back to back weeks, then beat undefeated Northwestern last week as a 13 point underdog last Saturday.  We were on the Spartan on the first half line (+7) as we felt Northwestern would come out flat after their big win over Wisconsin and MSU would be energized following a bye.  Sparty jumped out to a 17-0 lead and easily covered the first half on their way to a 29-20 win.  The Cats played by far their worst game of the season with just 63 yards rushing and 4 turnovers which led to 16 of MSU’s 29 points.  Speaking of running the ball, Michigan State entered the game averaging just 73 YPG on the ground and HC Tucker had a game plan to try and run the ball against one of the top defensive teams in the nation.  They did just that with 195 yards on 47 carries.  QB Lombardi attempted just 27 passes which was a significant drop from his first 3 starts where he put the ball in the air an average of 37 times (he was benched in game 4).  Lombardi threw just 1 pick last Saturday after throwing 8 prior to last week.  Northwestern finally took their first lead of the game 20-17 just 1:00 minute into the 4th quarter.  MSU didn’t fold, which they could have at that point, with the defense really stepping up limiting NW to just 13 offensive snaps over their final 5 possessions while creating 3 turnovers during that stretch setting the offense up to win the game.     MICHIGAN STATE NEXT UP - @ Penn State  MOST RECENT MEETING – OSU was favored by 20.5 at home last year and pulled out a cover winning 34-10.  The score was 27-10 at the break and the Buckeyes held MSU scoreless from that point on.  POINTSPREAD NUGGET – This is just the 2nd time in series history that OSU has been favored by more than 21 points.  The first was in 1998 when the Buckeyes were favored by 27.5 points and LOST OUTRIGHT 28-24.  Beyond that loss, OSU has been very successful on the road as a large chalk.  When favored by 21 or more away from home, the Buckeyes are 21-12 ATS dating back to 1980. 

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NCAA Basketball and NCAA Football Preview

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Dec 04, 2020

The Friday sports card features college basketball along with one game in college football. COVID issues prompted the cancellation of the previously scheduled Southern Mississippi/UTEP and Boise State/UNLV college football games. The Aston Villa-Newcastle United match scheduled for Friday afternoon is also postponed due to COVID concerns.Two of the games on the college basketball card will be nationally-televised at 9 PM ET. Texas Tech hosts Troy on ESPN2. The Red Raiders won their first two games of the season before getting upset against Houston last Sunday by a 64-53 score as a 3-point favorite. Troy is 1-1 after they lost at UNC-Wilmington last Saturday by a 73-50 score. Texas Tech is a 26.5-point favorite with the total set at 136.5 (all odds from BetOnline).On FS1, Oregon plays Seton Hall on a neutral court in Omaha. The Ducks lost their first game of the season on Wednesday in an 83-75 upset loss to Missouri as a 3-point favorite. The Pirates are 1-2 after a 76-63 upset loss at Rhode Island on Wednesday as a 2-point favorite. Oregon is a 2-point favorite with an over/under of 142.The Friday night college football game on ESPN is a rematch of the last two conference championship games in the Sun Belt Conference. Appalachian State defeated Louisiana-Lafayette in the 2018 conference championship game by a 30-19 score. The Mountaineers followed that victory up last year with their second-straight conference championship in a 45-38 win over the Ragin’ Cajuns. Appalachian State won both of those games at home in Boone, North Carolina, which is once again the site for this showdown.Louisiana returned 14 starters from last year’s team that finished 11-3 with a 27-17 victory over Miami (OH) in the Lending Tree Bowl. The Ragin’ Cajuns have clinched their third straight appearance in the Sun Belt Conference championship game with an 8-1 season. Louisiana’s lone loss was against Coastal Carolina, which they will get to avenge in this year’s Sun Belt championship game on December 19th. But first, the Ragin’ Cajuns have the opportunity to settle some past business in this revenge opportunity. The Ragin’ Cajuns come off a 70-20 victory at Louisiana-Monroe last week as a four-touchdown favorite. Senior quarterback Levi Lewis completed 18 of 25 passes for 147 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Lewis is completing 62.2% of his passes this season for 2027 yards with 16 touchdown passes but along with seven interceptions. Lewis has added 233 rushing yards on the ground on a 6.3 yards-per-carry average with another five touchdowns. Lewis hands off to running backs Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas, who have each rushed for more than 600 yards. The Ragin’ Cajuns average 5.8 yards-per-carry as a team, which is the sixth-highest mark in the nation.Appalachian State responded to their 34-23 loss at Coastal Carolina two weeks ago with a 47-10 victory at home against Troy last Saturday as a two-touchdown favorite. While the Mountaineers cannot defend their conference championship, they can still improve their standing for a bowl bid in this high-profile matchup. Appalachian State is 7-2 on the year, with their other loss being a 17-7 setback at Marshall. BetOnline lists Appalachian State as a 3-point favorite with an over/under of 51.5. The ESPN broadcast starts at 8:30 PM ET.

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Ness Notes: Thursday, Dec 3

by Larry Ness

Thursday, Dec 03, 2020

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."The NFL finally completed Week 12, as the Ravens and Steelers took the field on Wednesday. A COVID-19 outbreak in Baltimore forced the NFL to push the game back three times; first from Thanksgiving to Sunday, then from Sunday to Tuesday, and eventually from Tuesday to Wednesday. The teams kicked off in the afternoon to not interfere with NBC's annual Christmas special at Rockefeller Center. Naturally, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called it "a great game," although anyone watching "without blinders" may like Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin's assessment. He called it "junior varsity"-level play. RG III tried to "turn back the clock" but completed just 7 of 12 passes for 33 yards and threw first-quarter "pick-6." However, he did run for a game-high 68 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. The Ravens finished with just 219 total yards and 10 FDs but of course, earned the ATS win. Trace McSorley, one of 11 players promoted from the practice squad, came on for Griffith. With 3:30 left in the game, Baltimore had the ball at its own 16-yard line, trailing 19-7 (Ravens closed as a 10 1/2-point dog). Up until that point, McSorley had riddled the Pittsburgh pass D by completing 1 of 5 passes for seven yards. However, on 1st-and-10 from the Baltimore 30-yard line, he connected with Marquise Brown for a 70-yard TD with 2:58 to go for the 19-14 final. NEVER in doubt. My Week 12 recap and Week 13 preview will be featured in Friday's Notes.CBB: There had been just five meetings of ranked opponents entering Wednesday, with the higher ranked going 3-2 SU but 2-3 ATS. There were THREE games such games on Wednesday, including the nation's No. 1 (Gonzaga) and No. 2  (Baylor) teams playing in the Jimmy V Classic at Indianapolis. Gonzaga trailed No. 11 West Va by five at the half but outscored them 53-43 in the second half for an 87-82 win (ATS loss). Baylor led No. 5 Illinois by just one at the half but with FOUR players in double digits, outscored the Illini 51-39 in the second to win (and cover) 82-69. Think anyone will be interested in Saturday's showdown between Gonzaga and Baylor? No. 17 Texas blew a 16-point lead and fell behind No. 14 North Carolina late but won 69-67 on Matt Coleman's step-back jumper with 0.1 seconds left. It marked Texas' first Maui Invitational title in its fifth appearance, although I think the Texas players were aware that the game was played in snowy Asheville, NC. Higher ranked teams are now 5-3 SU but 3-5 ATS when facing a ranked opponent. There are no games between ranked opponents on Thursday.<p>No. 21 Oregon played its first game of the season against Missouri and No. 22 Florida  St also took the floor for the first time against an 0-3 North Florida team on Wednesday, while No. 23 Ohio St (2-0) was home to Morehead St. The Ducks lost 83-75 to Missouri (game was played in Omaha) but FSU and Ohio St both won and covered. In games between ranked teams and unranked opponents, ranked teams are off to an impressive 47-5 (.905) SU start, while going 31-19-2 (62.0%) ATS. Thursday will feature FOUR games between ranked and unranked opponents, including two top-10 teams being in action. No. 3 Iowa welcomes Western Illinois (playing its first game) to Iowa City at 2-0. Luka Garza, the nation's Preseason P-O-Y will likely not top his most recent performance, as he scored 41 points and made 14 of 15 FG attempts in last Friday's 103-76 rout of Southern. Iowa is favored by points. No. 7 Kansas is 2-1, after losing to No. 1 Gonzaga but beating St Joe's and No. 20 Kentucky, 65-62. I'm guessing that 3-0 Washburn does not have them worried. The Jayhawks are favored by points.CFB: The season has moved into December and there are only three games scheduled on Thursday (two) and Friday (one), with No. 20 ULL (8-1 / 6-1 SBC) visiting Appalachian St (7-2, 5-1) being the lone contest of note. Louisiana has already secured a spot in the conference championship game as the SBC-East champs, while Appalachian St's loss to Coastal Carolina (9-0 / 7-0) means it will not have a chance to defend its back-to-back SBC title game wins over ULL in 2018 and 2019. However, the Mountaineers are favored at home by 2 1/2-points. Moving ahead to Saturday, the ULL/App St game is one of 18 games between ranked and unranked teams, including SEVEN top-10 teams playing an unranked opponent. I'll get to those matchups in a bit but I'll start with Saturday's two games involving top-25 opponents (remember, I continue to use the AP rankings, not the CFP ones). No. 10 Indiana will be at No. 18 Wisconsin plus it's a showdown of 'Cinderella' teams when No. 14 Coastal Carolina (9-0) hosts No. 25 Liberty (9-1). Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr. has a torn ACL and is done for the season for the 5-1 Hoosiers. Sophomore Jack Tuttle, a four-star recruit from San Marcos, Ca, transferred to Indiana from Utah before the start of the 2019 season and will get the start. Wisconsin averaged 47 points in wins over Illinois and Michigan but lost 17-7 at Northwestern in it's only other game this season. The 2-1 Badgers have had as many games canceled (three) as they've played. Wisconsin is favored by 14 points. As for Coastal Carolina vs Liberty, only the Flames' 15-14 loss at NC State has prevented this contest from being a 'battle of unbeatens.' Even so, this much-anticipated matchup has drawn ESPN's "College Football GameDay" show to Conway, SC. It's deserving, as Coastal Carolina is No. 18 in the current CFP standings and its No. 14 ranking in the AP poll is not only the highest in school history but also the highest-ever for any SBC team. As for the Flames, they are off to their most successful 10-game start to a season, breaking the previous best of 8-1-1 to start the 1979 season. Coastal Carolina is favored by 11 points. Higher ranked teams sit 21-5 (.808) SU and 19-7 (73.1%) ATS in meetings between top-25 opponents in the college football season to-date.Now to the 18 games between ranked and unranked teams. Ranked teams were 68-22 (.756) SU when taking on an unranked opponent but just 36-53-1 (.404) ATS through Oct 31. We were waiting for a "regressions to the mean" and got it in the first three weeks of November as ranked teams went 37-2 (.949) SU and 25-13-1 (65.8%) ATS. Ranked teams did go 8-2 SU in November's final week but were just 5-5 ATS. Doing the math, ranked teams (when facing an unranked opponent) are now 113-26 (.813) SU but still sub-500 ATS at 66-71-2 (48.2%). The top-six schools in the AP and CFP rankings are the same, except for Ohio St being No. 3 in the AP poll, while Clemson is No. 3 in the CFP standings. Here's a quick 'peek' at these six schools.No. 1 Alabama is at LSU on Saturday, a contest that originally was scheduled to be played Nov 14, but was postponed because LSU had a shortage of players due to COVID issues. LSU had a "season for the ages" in 2019, going 15-0 to win the national championship, while QB Joe Burrow won the Heisman. This year's LSU team is a 'mess' and enters 3-4 while Alabama is well, Alabama. The Tide are favored by  29 1/2-points. The Fighting Irish (9-0, 8-0 ACC) have already clinched a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game by virtue of a scheduling change this week and own the longest active winning streak among FBS teams at 15 in a row. 1-9 Syracuse visits South Bend with Notre Dame favored by 33 1/2-points.No. 3 Ohio St has played just four games and needs to play Saturday at Michigan St and Dec 12 at home against Michigan to meet the minimum six games to be eligible for the Big Ten title game. Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker is in his first season at East Lansing and while his Spartans are just 2-3, Michigan St has beaten Michigan 27-24 as a 21 1/2-point underdog and Northwestern 29-20 as a 13 1/2-point underdog. A third upset against Ohio St in this one (Buckeyes are favored by 23 1/2-points) and Ohio State plus the CFP committee will no longer need to worry about how many games the Buckeyes do or do not play! No. 4 Clemson (remember, No. 3 in the CFP) will play at Va Tech, coming off a 52-17 victory against Pitt in which QB Trevor Lawrence returned to the starting lineup after missing two games with COVID-19 and passed for 403 yards and two TDs. Clemson advances to the ACC title game against No. 2 Notre Dame, which beat the Tigers earlier this season, with a win. Clemson is favored by 22 points.No. 5 Texas A&M will play at Auburn and No. 6 Florida will play at Tennessee, as both SEC teams hope for one of the above teams to lose. A&M owns a 41-38 win over Florida but the Gators are in better shape, as they will almost assuredly get a chance at Alabama in the SEC title game. A win over 'Bama and it would be hard to keep Florida out of the 'Final 4.' Texas A&M is favored by seven points over Auburn, while the Gators are favored by 17 1/2-points over the Vols. Remember when Fla/Ten was a real rivalry? The Gators enter Saturday's contest having won 14 of the last 15 meetings with Tennessee.Good luck...Larry

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NFL Stock Rising and Falling: Week 13

by Sean Murphy

Thursday, Dec 03, 2020

Having just wrapped up Week 12 in odd fashion with Wednesday afternoon football in Pittsburgh, it's time to get right back to work on the Week 13 NFL board. Here's a look at three teams on an uptick and three on the wrong side of the curve as we head down the home stretch in December.Stock RisingHouston TexansI hesitate to put the Texans in this category with the news that WR Will Fuller will miss the remainder of the season due to suspension after taking PED's. With that being said, there's no question Houston has been a different team since ridding itself of former head coach Bill O'Brien. While the Texans do draw a tough opponent in the Colts this Sunday, the fact that they're just a field goal underdog is telling. They might be catching Indy at the right time off back-to-back bruising battles with the Packers and Titans.Cleveland BrownsIs it time to start believing in the Browns? Their schedule has unquestionably done them plenty of favors to this point but now things toughen up with a trip to Tennessee on Sunday followed by a home date with the Ravens next week. There's certainly a path to the playoffs in Cleveland though, as it also has two games left against the Giants and Jets later in December. If the Browns can continue to hide an ineffective Baker Mayfield in their offensive scheme they can keep piling up victories.Seattle SeahawksI like the way the Seahawks have gone about their business in the last two weeks, successfully bouncing back from a tough stretch to deliver key wins over the Cardinals and Eagles, allowing a grand total of only 38 points in the process. Now comes the reward - consecutive games against the Giants and Jets (both at home, no less). The potential is there for Seattle to run the table from here, with its other games coming at Washington, at home against the Rams and at the 49ers.Stock FallingLas Vegas RaidersThe Raiders have shown a lot of promise this season but we'll see if that tough 35-31 loss to the Chiefs two weeks ago continues to have hangover effects moving forward. It certainly looked that way last week as Jon Gruden's squad was torched 43-6 by the lowly Falcons. A 'get right' spot awaits this Sunday as Las Vegas stays on the road to face the hapless Jets. If the Raiders can't earn a win in that game it might be time to start thinking about 2021.Denver BroncosWhile Covid protocols obviously put the Broncos in a really tough spot against the Saints last Sunday, things aren't likely to get much better this week - even with a real starting quarterback. That's because Denver is heading to Kansas City for a primetime date with the Chiefs. The last time these two AFC West rivals hooked up it was the Chiefs rolling to a 43-16 win. A similar scoreline would come as no surprise this week with Kansas City installed as a two-touchdown favorite.Arizona CardinalsWith three losses in their last four games the Cardinals have fallen on hard times at the absolute worst time. Perhaps the injury to QB Kyler Murray's shoulder has had more of an effect than the team has let on as their offense just hasn't looked the same in the last two weeks. Murray completed just 23-of-34 passes for 170 yards, no touchdowns and an interception against a beatable Patriots defense last Sunday. After a stretch that saw him throw three touchdowns in three of five games he has tossed a grand total of only three in his last three contests. With key injuries on the defensive side of the football they desperately need a lot more production out of their once-vaunted offense. 

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NCAA Thursday Night Football: Air Force/Utah State Preview

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, Dec 03, 2020

Air Force plays at Utah on Thursday night in a game between two Mountain West Conference teams facing different forms of adversity. For the Falcons, the biggest challenge this season has been getting to play their scheduled games given COVID complications. Air Force had their scheduled home contest with Colorado State canceled due to an outbreak within their program. The Falcons decided to embark on a season in the fall well before their other Mountain West Conference reconsidered their initial decision to postpone games. Air Force opened their season on October 3rd with a 40-7 victory over Navy. They waited another three weeks for their conference brethren to begin their seasons but lost that game at San Jose State by a 17-6 score. The Falcons lost at home to Boise State the next week by a 49-30 score but then had COVID issues that result in them not playing for three weeks before hosting New Mexico, who they shut out by a 28-0 score. Air Force goes into this game with a 2-2 record along with a 1-2 mark in conference play. The Falcons’ flexbone option under head coach Troy Calhoun in his fourteenth season with the program continues to put up huge rushing numbers. Air Force leads the nation by averaging 336.5 rushing yards-per-game. Freshman Brad Roberts had a breakout game against the Lobos with 177 rushing yards with three touchdowns on 28 carries. Senior quarterback Donald Hammond III left the team in the fall to enter the transfer portal rather than returning for his third year as a starter with the program. Sophomore Haaziq Daniels has emerged as the first-string quarterback with 189 rushing yards with a 5.0 yards-per-carry average in three games. He also has offered the offense a threat in the passing game by completing 17 of 31 passes for 199 yards. The Falcons defense has once again been strong after ranking 17th in the nation last season by allowing only 319.6 yards-per-game. Air Force is allowing 18.3 points-per-game this year along with just 324.5 yards-per-game.Utah State won their first game of the year last week with a 41-27 upset victory over New Mexico as a 6-point underdog. The Aggies gained 452 yards on offense while holding the winless Lobos to 348 yards in what was their best performance of the season on both sides of the football. Sophomore quarterback Andrew Peasley led the way in his first career start by completing 14 of 21 passes for 239 yards with three touchdown passes along with another 118 rushing yards with a touchdown on the ground. The victory for Utah State was also the first game under co-defensive coordinator Frank Maile who was named the interim head coach the previous week after Gary Andersen suddenly led the program. Anderson has become quite the enigma with his coaching career arc. He brought the program to great heights, including an 11-2 mark in 2012 with a conference championship and a bowl game victory. Andersen got wooed by Wisconsin to take over their program, but it was determined to be not a good fit for either Andersen or the Badgers. Andersen was able to get another power five conference job at Oregon State. Yet his tenure there ended with him leaving the program midseason amidst a rebellion from his assistant coaches. After serving as the defensive coordinator for his former mentor Kyle Whittingham at Utah, Andersen returned to Utah State to keep that program going after a successful six-year run under his former offensive coordinator with the Aggies in Matt Wells. But after only seven wins in seventeen games, Andersen left the program in what is a described mutual decision. Perhaps Andersen has lost his fire for coaching. Or the Utah State administration was frustrated with the direction of the program. The Aggies have seen players leave the program since the Andersen departure. Senior linebacker Cash Gilliam, senior linebacker Troy Lefeged, and junior wide receiver Deven Thompkins left the program last week to enter the transfer portal. Senior running back Jaylen Warren and sophomore linebacker Maika Magelei made that choice this week. Maile also dismissed quarterback Jason Shelley last week in what of his first actions as head coach, which created the opportunity for Peasley to make his first start. Maile communicated this week that Shelley’s dismissal had nothing to do with any team violations while vouching for his character. Yet Maile has made it a point to change the culture of the program.BookMaker lists Air Force as an 11.5-point favorite with the total set at 51.5. The CBS Sports Network has the broadcast starting at 9:30 PM ET.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball Preview

by Big Al Staff

Thursday, Dec 03, 2020

The Thursday sports card features college basketball along with two games in college football. The previously scheduled Thursday game in the NFL between Washington and Pittsburgh has moved to Monday at 5 PM ET, given the delays in getting the Steelers game played with Baltimore last week. There are no preseason college basketball tournaments on Thursday, but there is some afternoon action. North Carolina State plays UMass-Lowell at 4:30 PM ET in the mini-bubble at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The Wolfpack are 15.5-point favorites with the total set at 152 (all odds from BetOnline). ESPNU has the broadcast. UConn plays USC on the neutral court at the Mohegan Sun Arena at 7 PM ET. The Huskies are 1-point favorites with an over/under of 142.5. This game is on ESPN. The ESPN nightcap at 9:30 PM ET has Florida playing Boston College at the Mohegan Sun Arena neutral court. The Gators are a 7.5-point favorite with the total at 142.  The final college basketball game on Thursday's card takes place out west, on the Pac-12 Network, with California hosting Arizona State.  The Sun Devils are 7.5 point road favorites, with a total of 147.5.In college football, the card kicks off at 6 PM ET with Louisiana Tech visiting North Texas. The Bulldogs have not played since October 31st when they upset UAB in overtime by a 37-34 score as a 12-point underdog. That victory raised Louisiana Tech’s record to a 4-3 mark.North Texas saw their two-game winning streak snapped last week in a 49-17 loss at the University of Texas-San Antonio as a 1.5-point underdog. The Mean Green fell to a 3-4 record on the season. These Conference USA opponents played last season on November 19th, with Louisiana Tech winning at home by a 52-17 score as a 5.5-point favorite. The Bulldogs opened as a small favorite, but North Texas is now a 2-point favorite with the total at 66. This game is on the CBS Sports Network. The second college football game on the CBS Sports Network takes place at 9:30 PM ET. Air Force plays at Utah on Thursday night in a showdown between two Mountain West Conference teams. The Falcons decided to embark on a season in the fall well before their other Mountain West Conference reconsidered their initial decision to postpone games. Air Force opened their season on October 3rd with a 40-7 victory over Navy. They waited another three weeks for their conference brethren to begin their seasons but lost that game at San Jose State by a 17-6 score. The Falcons lost at home to Boise State the next week by a 49-30 score but then had COVID issues that result in them not playing for three weeks before hosting New Mexico, who they shut out by a 28-0 score. Air Force goes into this game with a 2-2 record along with a 1-2 mark in conference play. Utah State won their first game of the year last week with a 41-27 upset victory over New Mexico as a 6-point underdog. The Aggies gained 452 yards on offense while holding the winless Lobos to 348 yards in what was their best performance of the season on both sides of the football. Sophomore quarterback Andrew Peasley led the way in his first career start by completing 14 of 21 passes for 239 yards with three touchdown passes along with another 118 rushing yards with a touchdown on the ground. Air Force is an 11.5-point favorite with the total set at 51.

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