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Ness Notes: Monday, Nov 23

by Larry Ness

Monday, Nov 23, 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."NFL Week 11: A detailed recap will be featured in Tuesday Notes but Week 11 was highlighted by Pittsburgh moving to 10-0 with a 27-3 win at Jacksonville, as the Jags have now lost NINE in a row. However, the Jets one-upped Jacksonville by losing 34-28 at the Chargers to fall to 0-10 to open the 2020 season. The Jets have lost 10 straight games in the same season for the first time in club history and they are two losses from matching their longest losing streak ever, a 12-game skid that bridged the 1995-96 seasons. Week 11 featured two overtime games, the Titans beating the Ravens 30-24 in Baltimore (no "playoff revenge" for the Ravens) and the Colts edging the Packers 34-31, after holding Green Bay to THREE points after halftime (GB led 28-14).MNF concludes with the Rams at the Bucs (8:15 ET on ESPN). The 6-3 Los Angeles Rams need a win to keep pace with the 7-3 Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West and the 7-3 Tampa Bay Bucs need a win to stay just a half-game back of the 8-2 Saints in the NFC South. I'm "old school" and can remember the Rams beating the Bucs 9-0 at Tampa in the 1979 NFC championship game (can you say Chuck Knox & John McKay?). Fast-forwarding to 2020, the Bucs are favored by 4 1/2-points and the over/under is 48 1/2.CFB recap: Unfortunately, I begin with the fact that 18 games were either postponed or canceled due to COVID-related issues. The list includes SIX ranked teams, as No. 4 Clemson, No. 5 Texas A&M (for the second straight week), No. 12 Miami-Fl, No. 15 Marshall, No. 21 Texas and No. 24 ULL. It hardly bodes well that San Diego St at Fresno St and Washington at Washington St (both scheduled for Friday), have already been canceled. There were three games between ranked teams in Week 12, all played on Saturday. The higher ranked teams had gone 17-3 SU and 16-4 ATS in meetings between top-25 teams entering Saturday but only No. 3 survived on Saturday, edging No. 9 Indiana 42-35 (didn't come close to covering). In the other two matchups, No. 10 Wisconsin lost 17-7 at No. 19 Northwestern and No. 14 Oklahoma lost badly at No. 18 Oklahoma,41-13. Updating the Y-T-D numbers we find the higher ranked team 18-5 SU and 16-7 ATS in meetings between top-25 teams.Moving on to ranked teams vs unranked ones. 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?Recapping those three games between ranked teams, Ohio State QB Justin Fields looked 'human' for the first time in 2020, as did Ohio St's pass defense. Fields entered the game with as many TD passes as incompletions (11 each) but while he did throw for 300 yards with two TDs and a rush TD, we saw signs of mortality. He had more incompletions (12, going 18 of 30) than in his first three games combined plus threw THREE interceptions, after entering the game with ZERO in 83 attempts (he also was sacked FIVE times!). The Buckeyes were favored by three TDs but won by just SEVEN, as Indiana QB Pennix passed for 491 yards and five TDs. Ohio St did beat Indiana for the 26th consecutive time and won for the 18th straight time over a top-10 Big Ten opponent but the Buckeyes' run of 16 straight double digit wins in Big Ten play came to an end. Wisconsin redshirt freshman QB Graham Mertz 'exploded' on the scene by completing 20 of 21 passes while throwing five TDs in his college debut back on Oct 23 (45-7 win over Illinois). However, while Wisconsin routed Michigan 49-11 last Saturday, he threw for just 127 yards and against Northwestern's D on Saturday, was picked off THREE times. Northwestern moves to 5-0 in the Big Ten for the first time since 1996 (the year after the team's 1995 Rose Bowl trip). Oklahoma's Mike Gundy has led Oklahoma to a bowl game in each of the last 14 seasons (and will make it 15 straight in 2020) but he fell to 2-14 in the "Bedlam" series with Oklahoma, as the Sooners routed the Cowboys 41-13. No. 1 Alabama beat Kentucky 63-6 and has now scored 35-plus points in 20 straight games, the longest streak in FBS history. No. 6 Florida won 38-17 at Vandy (eighth straight game of 35-plus points) as Kyle Trask threw three TD passes and now has 30 in his first seven games, the first QB in SEC history to do so. No. 7 Cincy eked out a 36-33 win at UCF, as the Cincinnati defense held the Golden Knights to 359 yards (entered the game averaging 619.1 YPG). It's not easy to cover a 51-point spread but No. 8 BYU did just that, beating North Alabama 66-14 to move to 9-0. Some lowlights of the weekend were Penn St losing 41-21 at home to Iowa, as the Nittany Lions fell to 0-5 for the first time in school history (program began play back in 1887!) and Tennessee losing its FIFTH in a row (30-17 at Auburn) after a 2-0 start. The Vols opened 2019 at 2–5 start but won their final SIX games of the season, including a 23–22 comeback victory in the Gator Bowl against Indiana. The Vols opened 25th in the preseason AP poll and started 2-0 in 2020 and were up to 14th when they visited then-No. 3 Georgia on Oct 10. The Vols led 21-17 at the half "between the hedges" but would get shut out in the second half of a 44-21 loss. NOTHING has gone right since, as the team's five straight losses have all come by double digits. That's the first time that's happened in school history (FB program started in 1891).New AP poll: The AP poll began back in 1936 but unanimous No. 1 rankings are pretty rare, as it's happened just 80 times in poll history. However, 67 of those times have come since 1992 and it will come as no surprise that Alabama leads the way. The Crimson Tide received all 62 votes in Sunday's poll, claiming a unanimous No. 1 ranking for the 22nd time (most of any school), with 21 of those coming since 2012. Four ranked teams lost this past week but THREE lost to a ranked opponent, so there was little change in the current poll. In fact, the top-8 teams remained the same for the second straight week. Falling out of the top-10 were No. 9 Indiana (fell to No. 12 after losing to Ohio St) and No. 10 Wisconsin, which fell to No. 18 after losing at Northwestern. Miami-Fl moved to No. 9 (from 12) and Oregon to No. 10, up from No. 11. Northwestern jumped EIGHT spots to No. 11 with its first 5-0 start in the Big Ten since 1996. Coastal Carolina had a tough time vs Appalachian St (won 34-23) but moved to 8-0, falling just one spot to No. 16. However, the season's other 'Cinderella' team, Liberty, lost for the first time in 2020, 15-14 at NC State and fell out of the poll (was No. 21). Climbing back in at No. 25 was North Carolina, which back on Oct 11 was 3-0 and ranked No. 5. However, the Tar Heels will host No. 2 Notre Dame on Saturday (Irish own the nation's longest-active winning streak at 14 in a row). Two other top-25 showdowns are No. 1 Alabama hosting No. 22 Auburn in the latest edition of the Iron Bowl (24th time both teams are ranked) and No. 15 Iowa St playing at No. 20 Texas. The Cyclones can clinch a spot in the Big 12 championship game with a win. The last time Iowa St WON a championship game was back in 1912, capturing the MVC championship.I noted above that the AP poll began back in 1936 but in reality, yesterday's poll is the last time in 2020 that it will be relevant. The first CFP rankings will be revealed Tuesday night and will take 'center stage' the rest of the way. Alabama, Notre Dame , Ohio St and Clemson are 1-2-3-4 in both current polls (Coaches' poll being the other), and it would hardly be surprising if that's the order we will see on Tuesday. Recap of the CFP rankings covered in Wednesday's Notes.Good luck...Larry 

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL and NFL Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Nov 23, 2020

The Monday sports card features two-afternoon matches in the English Premier League along with Monday Night Football in the NFL.The NBC Sports Network broadcasts a double-header in the English Premier League. At 12:30 PM ET, Burnley hosts Crystal Palace. Burnley earned just their second point of the season two weeks ago before the international break with their scoreless draw at Brighton. The Clarets are 19th in the EPL table with just two draws in seven matches. They have scored only three goals. Injuries have played a role this season for manager Sean Dyche’s team after they finished tied for ninth place last year. Crystal Palace returns to the pitch after a 4-1 victory against Leeds United on November 7th before the international break. That was the fourth win on the season for manager Roy Hodgson’s side that also has a draw in their eight matches. The Eagles are in ninth place with 13 points. They had only scored eight times in their first seven matches before adding those additional four goals against Leeds. Crystal Palace finished last season in 14th place in the EPL.This match is a pick ‘em with the total set at 2 (all odds from BetOnline).Southampton travels to Wolverhampton for the second match on the NBC Sports Network at 3 PM ET. The Saints return to action after a 2-0 victory at home against Newcastle United on November 6th. That victory was the Saints’ fifth this season, along with a draw in their eight matches. They currently sit fifth in the EPL table with 16 points for the results on Sunday. Manager Ralph Hassenhuttl remains without forward Danny Ings, with the Englishman on the shelf with a knee injury. Southampton finished in 11th place last season. Wolverhampton looks to rebound from a 1-0 loss at Leicester City in their most recent match on November 8th. The Wolves have four victories and one draw in their eight games for 13 points, which places them in twelfth place in the EPL table after the results on Sunday. Wolverhampton remains an outstanding defensive club for manager Nuno Espirito Santo as the nine goals they have allowed this year ties for the fewest in the league. But the Wolves have only scored only eight times, which is the fourth-fewest in the EPL. Wolverhampton finished tied for sixth place in the EPL last season, which once again qualified them for the Europa League. The Wolves are -0.25 goal-line favorites with an over/under of 2.25.Monday Night Football on ESPN features two NFC foes in the thick of the playoff race.Los Angeles won their second game in their last three contests last week with their 23-16 victory over Seattle last Sunday as a 3-point favorite. The Rams used a +2 net turnover margin to help them outgain the Seahawks by +56 net yards to defeat their NFC West rivals. Los Angeles is one-half game behind the Seahawks in the NFC West standings after Sunday’s results. This game will be the fifth time that the schedule-makers have required Sean McVay’s team to play on the east coast. The Rams are 2-2 in those games. Tampa Bay has four victories in their last five games after their 46-23 win at Carolina last Sunday as a 6-point favorite. The Buccaneers dominated the Panthers as they outgained them by 361 net yards while holding them to just 187 yards. The Bucs’ offense churned out 544 yards while being on the field for over 36 minutes of that game.Bruce Arians gave his team three days off this week after admitting that his team was tired after playing ten straight weeks without a bye week yet. The Buccaneers struggled in their three prime-time games earlier this season, with their lone victory being at the beginning of the month when they needed to rally in the second half to defeat the New York Giants at home by a  25-23 score. Arians changed the practice schedule this week by moving afternoon practices tonight. Brady has a career record of 18-7 when playing on Monday Night Football, but most of those starts were with him wearing a Patriots uniform. Tampa Bay is one game behind New Orleans in the NFC South standings after the Saints’ victory over Atlanta on Sunday. Tampa Bay is a 4-point favorite with the total set at 48. Kickoff is shortly after 8:15 PM ET.

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NFL Monday Night Football: Buccaneers/Rams Preview

by Big Al Staff

Monday, Nov 23, 2020

Monday Night Football on ESPN features two NFC foes in the thick of the playoff race.Los Angeles won their second game in their last three contests last week with their 23-16 victory over Seattle last Sunday as a 3-point favorite. The Rams used a +2 net turnover margin to help them outgain the Seahawks by +56 net yards to defeat their NFC West rivals. Quarterback Jared Goff completed 27 of 37 passes for 302 yards in the victory. Goff is completing 66.4% of his passes on the season for 2447 yards with 13 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He leads an offense that is scoring 24.0 points-per-game while averaging 395.6 yards-per-game. The Rams’ defense sacked Seattle’s Russell Wilson six times. Los Angeles ranks third in the NFL with 31 sacks. The Rams lead the NFL by holding their opponents to 296.4 yards-per-game, and their 18.7 points-per-game scoring average is second-best in the NFL. Los Angeles is one-half game behind the Seahawks in the NFC West standings after Sunday’s results. This game will be the fifth time that the schedule-makers have required Sean McVay’s team to play on the east coast. The Rams are 2-2 in those games. Tampa Bay has four victories in their last five games after their 46-23 win at Carolina last Sunday as a 6-point favorite. The Buccaneers dominated the Panthers as they outgained them by 361 net yards while holding them to just 187 yards. The Bucs’ offense churned out 544 yards while being on the field for over 36 minutes of that game.Tom Brady completed 28 of 39 passes for 341 yards with three touchdown passes in the win. Brady is completing 66.0% of his passes for 2739 yards with 23 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He leads a Tampa Bay offense that is scoring 29.6 points-per-game while averaging 368.5 yards-per-game. The Bucs have topped the 30 point mark in three of their last five games. However, Brady has been sacked 14 times this season, with nine of them coming in their three losses to New Orleans twice and to Chicago. The Tampa Bay defense is third in the league by allowing 300.3 yards-per-game. The Bucs are also holding their opponents to 22.6 points-per-game, and they rank fourth in the NFL in sacks. Bruce Arians gave his team three days off this week after admitting that his team was tired after playing ten straight weeks without a bye week yet. The Buccaneers struggled in their three prime-time games earlier this season, with their lone victory being at the beginning of the month when they needed to rally in the second half to defeat the New York Giants at home by a  25-23 score. Arians changed the practice schedule this week by moving afternoon practices tonight. Brady has a career record of 18-7 when playing on Monday Night Football, but most of those starts were with him wearing a Patriots uniform. Tampa Bay is one game behind New Orleans in the NFC South standings after the Saints’ victory over Atlanta on Sunday. The injury list is relatively light for both teams. Tampa Bay declared left guard Ali Marpet out for this game on Sunday. Defensive lineman Vita Vea and tight end O.J. Howard remains on their Injured Reserve list. Los Angeles safety Taylor Rapp and Pro Bowl left tackle Andre Whitworth are both out indefinitely with injuries. BetOnline lists Tampa Bay as a 4-point favorite with the total set at 48. Kickoff is at 8:15 PM ET.

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NFL Sunday Night Football: Chiefs/Raiders Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Nov 22, 2020

Sunday Night Football on NBC features a rematch of two AFC West rivals with playoff aspirations. Las Vegas upset Kansas City in Arrowhead Stadium on October 11th by a 40-32 score. The Raiders were 10-point underdogs in that game. Las Vegas got blasted home the next week after stunning the Chiefs by a 45-20 score to Tampa Bay. Yet the Raiders have since won three straight games to raise their record to a 6-3 mark with their 37-12 win at home against Denver last week. Las Vegas forced five turnovers in that blowout victory. The Raiders' winning streak has come from old-fashioned, smash-mouth football as they have piled up 190.7 rushing yards-per-game during their winning streak while averaging just 138 passing yards-per-game. The commitment to running the football has helped the Las Vegas defense. During this three-game winning streak, the Raiders are holding their opponents to only 14.7 points-per-game with opposing quarterbacks putting up a low cumulative 68.1 passer rating. Kansas City’s lone loss this season was against Las Vegas. The Chiefs have since rattled off four straight wins to raise their record to an 8-1 mark since that setback. Kansas City comes off their bye week after they defeated Carolina at home by a 33-31 score two Sundays ago as a 10-point favorite. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the way by completing 30 of 45 passes for 372 yards with four touchdown passes against the Panthers. Andy Reid has led his teams to an 18-3 record coming off a bye week in his career as a head coach with Kansas City and previously with Philadelphia. Reid has won all four of his encounters with the Raiders with the benefit of the bye week. Injuries and COVID loom large in this rematch. The Raiders encountered a potential COVID outbreak early in the week when defensive end Clelin Ferrell tested positive. Ferrell and seven other starters on the defense quarantined for the rest of the week and did not practice. The best-case scenario for Las Vegas is that these other seven players test negative on Sunday are cleared to play in the evening. As of Saturday afternoon, the Raiders removed seven of their ten players from their COVID list, including safety Johnathan Abram. All these players still need a negative test on Sunday to be eligible to play. Ferrell will remain out given his positive test given the league’s minimum five-day restriction policy from an initial positive test.   Las Vegas does have some good news on the injury front with left tackle Kolton Miller a full participant in the Raiders’ practice on Friday with defensive tackle Maurice Hurst a limited participant after both have missed time with injuries. Kansas City will be without left guard Martinas Rankin, who is on the COVID list, but wide receiver Mecole Hardman was taken off the COVID list on Saturday. The Chiefs had hoped to get Sammie Watkins back at wide receiver after he took part in limited practice on Friday, recovering from his hamstring injury, but he was declared out for this game on Saturday. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is out with a back issue and was placed on the Injured Reserve on Saturday. Defensive end Taco Charlton was also placed on Injured Reserve. Left tackle Eric Fisher is off the COVID list and took part in full practice on Friday, so he should play on SundayBetAnySports lists Kansas City as a 7.5-point road favorite with the total set at 57. Kickoff is shortly after 8:20 PM ET.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: EPL and NFL Preview

by Big Al Staff

Sunday, Nov 22, 2020

The Sunday sports card features the continuation of Week 11 of the National Football League, along with four matches in the English Premier League.The NFL has 12 games scheduled for Sunday. Seven games begin the card at 1 PM ET. The national game on Fox has New Orleans hosting Atlanta, with the Saints a 4-point favorite with the total set at 49 (all odds from BookMaker). CBS has a rematch of the AFC Divisional playoff game between Baltimore and Tennessee. The Ravens host this showdown as a 6-point favorite with the over/under at 50.Another four games take place in the second window of afternoon games. At 4:05 PM ET, the New York Jets travel to Los Angeles to play the Chargers. The Denver Broncos host the Miami Dolphins at 4:05 PM ET. At 4:25 PM ET, the Dallas Cowboys play at the Minnesota Vikings. The national game on Fox at 4:25 PM ET features Indianapolis hosting Green Bay. The Colts are a 1-point favorite with the over/under at 51.5.Sunday Night Football on NBC features a rematch of two AFC West rivals with playoff aspirations. Las Vegas upset Kansas City in Arrowhead Stadium on October 11th by a 40-32 score. The Raiders were 10-point underdogs in that game. Las Vegas got blasted home the next week after stunning the Chiefs by a 45-20 score to Tampa Bay. Yet the Raiders have since won three straight games to raise their record to a 6-3 mark with their 37-12 win at home against Denver last week. Las Vegas forced five turnovers in that blowout victory. Kansas City’s lone loss this season was against Las Vegas. The Chiefs have since rattled off four straight wins to raise their record to an 8-1 mark since that setback. Kansas City comes off their bye week after they defeated Carolina at home by a 33-31 score two Sundays ago as a 10-point favorite. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the way by completing 30 of 45 passes for 372 yards with four touchdown passes against the Panthers. Kansas City is a 7.5-point road favorite with the total set at 57. Kickoff is shortly after 8:20 PM ET.Match week 9 of the English Premier League continues with four matches on Sunday. At 7 AM ET, Everton travels to Fulham for a game televised on the NBC Peacock app. The Toffees are a -0.5 goal-line favorite with the total set at 2.75. At 9 AM ET, Sheffield United hosts West Ham United, which is also on Peacock. The Hammers are a -0.25 goal-line road favorite with the over/under set at 2.25. The NBC Sports Network has Leeds United hosting Arsenal at 11:30 AM ET. The Gunners are -0.25 goal-line road favorites with a total of 2.75. The Sunday card concludes at 2:15 PM ET with Leicester City traveling to Liverpool for the second match on the NBC Sports Network. The reigning EPL champion Reds are a 0.5 goal-line favorite with the over/under at 3.

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NCAA Saturday Afternoon Football: Cincinnati/UCF Preview

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, Nov 21, 2020

The Saturday afternoon game at 3:30 PM ET on ESPN features a showdown of American Athletic Conference powers.Cincinnati has hopes to reach the college football playoffs as they continue their undefeated season. The Bearcats is the seventh-ranked team in the Associated Press poll this week after their 55-13 victory over East Carolina last Saturday as a 27.5-point favorite. Cincinnati is scoring 41.6 points-per-game while averaging 471.9 yards-per-game. They are also holding their opponents to just a 12.4 points-per-game scoring average. Junior quarterback Desmond Ridder completed 24 of 31 passes for 327 yards with three touchdown passes in the victory over the Pirates. He added another 75 rushing yards on eight carries with another touchdown. Ridder is completing 66.7% of his passes this season for 1483 yards with 14 touchdown passes but also with six interceptions. The dual-threat has added another 469 rushing yards with nine touchdowns on an 8.8 yards-per-carry average.Fourth-year head coach Luke Fickell has 15 starters back from the team that finished 11-3 last year that included a 38-6 win over Boston College in the Birmingham Bowl. That was the second-straight 11-win season for this program that wants to put themselves in a position to compete against the elite power five opponents in the nation. Winning the American Athletic Conference championship game remains an obstacle after losing to Memphis in the title game last year by a 29-24 score. The Bearcats avenged that loss to the Tigers earlier this season with a 49-10 blowout victory. They also easily won at SMU by a 42-13 score. With games at Temple and Tulsa on deck, this is likely the stiffest test left for Cincinnati to reach the AAC championship game. Central Florida lost two close games last month to conference rivals with an 8-point loss to Tulsa was followed up by a 50-49 loss at Memphis. The setback to the Golden Hurricane was devastating as they blew an 18-point lead in that game. The Knights have responded with three straight victories where they have averaged 44.3 points-per-game. They defeated Temple at home last Saturday by a 38-13 score as a 28.5-point favorite. Sophomore quarterback Dillon Gabriel completed 12 of 22 passes against the Owls for 268 yards with two touchdown passes to lead his team to victory. He has thrown nine touchdown passes without an interception in UCF’s three-game winning streak. The southpaw is completing 63.3% of his passes this season with 23 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. After passing for 3653 yards with 29 touchdowns in his freshman campaign, Gabriel leads an offensive attack that is number one in the nation with a 393.6 passing yards-per-game average. The Knights were second in the nation last year by averaging 540.5 yards-per-game. The fast-tempo offense under third-year head coach Josh Heupel has been even more explosive this season as they are producing 619.1 yards-per-game, which is the best mark in the FBS. Heupel has eight starters back on both sides of the ball from the group that finished 10-3 last year. UCF has been snake bit in close games, with their three losses last year being by just eight combined points. Cincinnati upset the Knights last year by a 27-24 score as a 3.5-point home underdog. BetAnySports lists the Bearcats as a 4-point road favorite with the over/under set at 65.5.

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A College Football Bad Beat for the Ages

by Wayne Root

Saturday, Nov 21, 2020

DOUBLE BAD BEATTulane +5.5 vs Tulsa -5.5Over/Under 53.5———————-Bet TulaneBet Under————Halftime score 0-0Points are ok getting 5.5Under is incredible at 53.5————End of 3rd quarterTulane 14–Tulsa 0Points are looking greatUnder is 39 points from winning; So lock it up————Start of 4th quarterTulane 14 - Tulsa 7    14—14    1:51 left    21—14.     :06 leftTulsa has ball with .06 seconds left. QB throws 37 yard pass to tie and send to OT at 21-21———-First OTTulsa scores FG first 21-24Tulane scores FG 24-24 to tie———-2 OTTulane gets ball. Throws a 94 yard pick-6Final Score:Tulane 24Tulsa 30Tulane bettor had + 5.5 to lose by the hookTulane bettor also had under 53.5 to lose by the hook. And you think you had a bad day?

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

by Big Al Staff

Saturday, Nov 21, 2020

The Saturday sports card features a busy slate of college football games along with the return of the English Premier League after their international break last week. The college football card features 31 games between FBS opponents. COVID issues led to the cancellation of the following 14 match-ups between FBS teams scheduled for Saturday: UAB at UTEP; Mississippi at Texas A&M; Georgia Tech at Miami (FL); Charlotte at Marshall; Arizona State at Colorado; UL-Monroe at Louisiana Tech; Wake Forest at Duke; Navy at South Florida; Houston at SMU; Utah State at Wyoming; Texas at Kansas; UNLV at Colorado State; Maryland at Michigan State; San Jose State at Fresno State. Twelves games kick off the college football slate in the noon to 3 PM ET window. Nine games take place at noon. On ABC, Clemson travels to Florida State with the Tigers' 34-point road favorites with the total set at 64 (all lines from BookMaker). Ohio State hosts Indiana on Fox with the Buckeyes a 20-point favorite and an over/under of 66.5. Florida travels to Vanderbilt on ESPN with the Gators 31-point road favorites with a total of 68. On ESPN2,  Appalachian State plays at Coastal Carolina with the Chanticleers 5-point favorites and the over/under at 48. Arkansas State visits Texas State, where the Red Wolves are 5.5-point favorites with a total of 68.5. Army hosts Georgia Southern on the CBS Sports Network as a 3-point favorite with the over/under set at 40.Another ten games take place in the 3:30 PM ET to 4 PM ET window. Seven games kickoff at 3:30 PM ET. ESPN has the American Athletic Conference showdown with Cincinnati traveling to Central Florida as a 4.5-point road favorite with a total of 65.5. Wisconsin travel to Evanston to play Northwestern in a battle of undefeated Big Ten West foes on ABC with the Badgers a 7.5-point road favorite with the over/under at 44. Nevada hosts San Diego State on CBS with the Aztecs' 1.5-point road favorites with the total set at 46.5. ESPN2 has UCLA playing at Oregon, where the Ducks are a 17-point favorite with an over/under of 64. Oregon State hosts California with the Golden Bears 2.5-point road favorite with the total at 46.5. At 4 PM ET, Iowa State hosts Kansas State on Fox with the Cyclones 12-point favorites with the over/under at 46.Seven games kick off from 7 PM ET to 8 PM ET. At 7 PM ET, Tennessee travels to Auburn with the Tigers 10.5-point favorites with the total set at 50.5. ABC broadcasts the Bedlam rivalry game this year at 7:30 PM ET with Oklahoma State playing at Oklahoma, where the Sooners are 7-point favorites with an over/under of 60.5. At 8 PM ET, Washington hosts Arizona on Fox with the Huskies 12-point favorites with a total of 53.5.Two final games close out the card in the evening. At 10:30 PM ET, USC travels to Utah with the Trojans 2.5-point road favorites with an over/under of 57.5. At 11 PM ET, Hawai’i hosts Boise State with the Broncos’ 13.5-point road favorites, with the total set at 55.The English Premier League returns to the pitch after a two-week international break with four matches on Saturday. Chelsea plays at Newcastle United at 7:30 AM ET on the NBC Peacock app. At 10 AM ET on the NBC Sports Network, Aston Villa hosts Brighton and Hove Albion. NBC broadcasts the Tottenham Hotspurs hosting Manchester City at 12:30 PM ET. The card concludes at 3 PM ET with West Bromwich traveling to Old Trafford to play Manchester United on the NBC Peacock app. 

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Ness Notes: Friday, Nov 20

by Larry Ness

Friday, Nov 20, 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."As my very favorite pop icon (the legendary Britney Spears) once opined, "Oops!... I Did It Again." Regulars know that I've charted games featuring ranked teams against unranked opponents all season (ranked teams opened the week 94-23, .803 SU but just 53-62-2, 46.1%  ATS) and the current CFB week features 13 such games. The first of those games was played last night, as No. 25 Tulsa (ranked for the first time since 2010) hosted Tulane. Tulsa opened the current season with a competitive 16-7 loss at then-No. 11 Oklahoma St but then ripped off FOUR straight wins. The Golden Hurricane fell behind the then-No. 19 Mustangs 21-0 last Saturday, before outscoring them 28-3 the rest of the way. So what else was new? Tulsa trailed 16-2 at UCF on Oct 3 but came back to win 31-26 and on Oct 30 at home, trailed East Carolina 17-3 before winning 34-30. Nothing to it! Well, "Oops!... Tulsa Did It Again!" Tulsa fell behind Tulane 14-0 last night but for the FOURTH time this season, erased a double-digit deficit. Third-string QB Davis Brin (1st and 2nd string QBs got hurt) ran for one TD and passed for two, including a 37-yard Hail Mary TD pass as time expired in the fourth quarter. The teams traded FGs during the first overtime and on the first possession of the second overtime, Tulane moved to the Tulsa 7-yard line but on third-and-goal, Michael Pratt was intercepted by Zaven Collins, who returned it 96 yards for the game-winning TD in Tulsa's 30-24 victory. The pointspread? It was anywhere from Tulsa favored by four to seven points, depending on when you played it! And the Over/Under ranged from 53.5 to 56 points.  So, for many bettors, this game -- which was 0-0 at halftime -- went OVER the total!  You just CAN'T make this stuff up! The NFL opened its Week 11 with a "Battle 4 First" in the NFC West between the Cards and Seahawks in Seattle. There was a three-way tie at the top of the division when the Cards and Seahawks kicked off last night. Carlos Hyde, back in action after missing three games due to a hamstring injury, rushed for a season-high 79 yards and a TD. Russell Wilson had  a season-low 197 passing yards but completed 23 of 28 with two TDS and zero INTs (119.8 QB rating). However, the 'game ball' should go to the Seattle defense, which held the Cardinals' top-ranked offense to 314 yards, more than 100 below their average (425.5). Arizona gained just 57 yards rushing after entering with a league-best average of 168.9 per game. Note that the Seattle defense entered the game allowing a league-high 448.3 YPG. The Seahawks broke a three-way tie atop the NFC West by moving to 7-3 (Cards are now 6-4), although the Los Angeles Rams (6-3) can join them atop the division by winning at Tampa Bay on Monday night (see Monday's Notes).Sunday's NFL: Let's start at the top AND the bottom. The NFL's only unbeaten team, the 9-0 Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3 ATS), will play at the 1-8 Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags actually won their Week 1 game, upsetting the now 6-3 Colts 27-20 as a home dog, but have since lost EIGHT in a row. Maybe the Jaguars can build on a stretch in which they have lost their last two games by a combined six points or perhaps Pittsburgh could be peeking ahead to an AFC North showdown against Baltimore on Thanksgiving. Then again, maybe the Steelers are simply DUE for a loss. Pittsburgh is favored by 10 1/2-points and the over/under is 46. The 0-9 Jets (coming off a bye week) are surely "DUE for a win," as they travel to Inglewood, Ca for a game with the 2-7 LA Chargers. The Jets have lost nine straight games in the same season for the first time in club history and  they are three losses from matching their longest losing streak ever, a 12-game skid that bridged the 1995-96 seasons. As for the Chargers, all SEVEN of their losses this season have been by EIGHT points or less and more troubling, FOUR times they have blown leads of 16 points or more (are you kidding me?). Could this be the week the Jets break through? New York opened 0-6 ATS but is 2-1 ATS its last three, while after opening 5-1 ATS, the Chargers enter on an 0-3 ATS skid. LA is favored by 9 1/2-points and the over/under is  46.My Thursday recap cap touched on one division leader (Seattle) and I've just mentioned Pittsburgh, the leaders of the AFC North. Let's move on to the remaining division leaders, beginning in the AFC. SNF features a classic AFL rivalry, the Chiefs and Raiders. The defending champs are 8-1 and are coming off a bye to visit Las Vegas, where they will take on the 6-3 Raiders. The Raiders shocked the Chiefs 40-32 at Kansas City back in Week 5, as 11-point underdogs. The Raiders got crushed 45-20 at home by the Bucs in their next game but enter this contest on a 3-0 SU & ATS run.  Mahomes is completing 66.9% for 2,687 yards with 25 TDs and just one INT (115.9 QB rating) but Carr is not far behind, completing 69.3% for 2,56 yards with 16 TDs and just two INTs (107.4 QB rating). The Chiefs are favored by 7  1/2-points and the over/under is 57. The AFC East leading Buffalo Bills (7-3) are on their bye week, meaning the 6-3 Miami Dolphins can move into a tie atop the division with a win at 3-6 Denver. Miami has won FIVE straight (Tua is 3-0 as a starter) and covered each win by averaging 31.6 PPG during its current streak. Buffalo last won the AFC East back in 1995 and Miami last won it in 2008, going 11-5 a year after going 1-15! Miami is favored by 3  1/2-points and the over/under is 45. The Colts and Titans are tied atop the AFC South at 6-3 (will meet in Week 12) and BOTH have tough tests on Sunday. The Colts will host the 7-2 Packers (leaders of the NFC North), while the Titans will play at 6-3 Baltimore. Aaron Rodgers (67.8% for 2,578 yards with 26 TDs, three INTs and a QB rating of 116.4) leads a Green Bay offense averaging 30.8 PPG, while the Colts defense allows a league-low 290.4 YPG and a modest 19.7 PPG. The Colts are favored by two points and the over/under is 51. The Titans return to 'the scene of the crime,' which is the way the Ravens likely view this game. Lamar Jackson was league MVP in 2019, posting a 113.3 QB rating (36-6 ratio) while rushing for 1,206 yards (6.9 YPC / 7 TDs), which set a single-record for QBs. Baltimore set a single season record for team rushing yards and became the first team since at least 1950 to average 200-plus pass YPG (201.6) and 200-plus rush YPG (206) in the same season. The D was not quite in the class of the Ray Lewis era units but the Ravens ranked 3rd in points allowed (17.6 PPG) and 4th in yards allowed (300.6 YPG). However, the Ravens were unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs last season, losing 28-12 at home to the Titans as 10-point favorites. In that game, Baltimore outgained Tennessee 530-to-300 in yards and 29-15 in FDs. Jackson passed for 365 yards and ran for 143 but coughed up THREE turnovers and was 0 of 4 on fourth down attempts. The Ravens will surely remember but they have 'flopped' in their biggest games so far in 2020 and Pittsburgh looms on Thanksgiving Day. Baltimore is favored by five points and the over/under is 49 1/2.Over in the NFC, I mentioned the North leader (Green Bay) just above and have also earlier set the stage in the NFC West. That leaves the NFC East and the NFC South. The 3-5-1 Eagles sit atop the NFC 'Least,' as their competition is the 3-7 NY Giants plus Washington and Dallas (both 2-7). Talk about being in the right place at the right time? However, the Eagles will be tested by a vastly-improved Cleveland Browns team that is 6-3 and eyeing a wild card berth in the AFC. The Browns are favored by three points and the over/under is 47 1/2. The New Orleans Saints have won SIX in a row and at 7-2, lead the 7-3 Tampa Bay Bucs in the NFC South by just a half-game. However, they own the important tiebreaker, having beaten the Bucs in BOTH regular meetings, including a 38-3 beatdown at Tampa in Week 9. It's 'lucky' Week 11 but the Saints will be without QB Drew Brees for an indefinite period of time due to rib and lung injuries. Visiting New Orleans on Sunday will be the 3-6 Atlanta Falcons, who are coming off a bye week and have turned things around after a 0-5 start with a 3-1 record under interim head coach Raheem Morris. This contest marks the first of two matchups between the Falcons and Saints in a three-week span, as the Saints will visit Atlanta for a Week 13 game. When Atlanta lost 23-16 at home to Carolina to fall to 0-5, head coach Dan Quinn was fired (should have been gone right after that INCREDIBLE Super Bowl collapse). The Falcons named Raheem Morris as interim head coach and the Falcons are 3-1 but with ANY luck would be 4-0 (lost to Detroit on the game's final play). Many will remember that the Saints went 5-0 with Teddy Bridgewater at QB in 2019 while Brees recovered from thumb surgery. Former Tampa Bay starter Jameis Winston is expected to replace Brees, although Taysom Hill could also take some snaps from center in addition to his usual reps at a variety of skill positions. The Saints are favored by 3  1/2-points and the over/under is 50.Good luck...Larry

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NCAA Saturday Night Football: Oklahoma/Oklahoma State Preview

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Nov 20, 2020

The Saturday night college football showdown on ABC features the 2020 incarnation of Bedlam, with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma both ranked in the Associated Press Top-20.Oklahoma State would be in the driver’s seat to play in the Big 12 championship game with a victory. The Cowboys rank 14th in the AP poll this week after their 20-18 win at Kansas State back on November 7th. Oklahoma State struggled to move the ball against the Wildcats as they only gained 256 yards. The Cowboys got outgained by 114 net yards but used a +2 net turnover margin, including an 85-yard fumble recovery midway in the 4th quarter, to earn the victory. They are now 5-1 this season, with their lone loss being a 41-34 setback to Texas.Several injuries slowed down Oklahoma State in that game, with running back Chuba Hubbard and wide receiver Tylan Wallace dealing with injuries that limited their production. Three injuries to starters on their offensive line have left head coach Mike Gundy has to start two freshmen on the line. The bye week came at a fortuitous time, yet both Hubbard and Wallace did not practice midweek.  The Cowboys have 17 starters back from the team that finished 8-5 with a 24-21 loss to Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl. Sophomore Spencer Sanders has completed 67.7% of his passes for 766 yards in just over three games in a season slowed by injuries in September. He has thrown five touchdowns, but his three interceptions in 93 pass attempts raise concerns from the 11 interceptions he tossed last season. The Oklahoma State defense is improved, with ten starters along with 12 of the top 13 tacklers back from last season. The Cowboys are holding their opponents to only 17.8 points-per-game along with 311.7 yards-per-game. Oklahoma opened the season with consecutive losses to Kansas State and Iowa State. The Sooners have since rattled off four straight victories culminating with their 62-9 win against Kansas on November 7th. Freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler completed 15 of 27 passes for 212 yards with a touchdown pass and another rushing touchdown. For the season, he is completing 67.8% of his passes for 2018 yards with 18 touchdown passes and six interceptions. Rattler is leading an offense that is scoring 46.1 points-per-game while averaging 515.0 yards-per-game. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson has rushed for 191 yards in his two games this season since returning to action with an 8.0 yards-per-carry average. Oklahoma has scored 124 points in those two games, albeit against Texas Tech and the Jayhawks.Head coach Lincoln Riley has 16 starters back from the group that finished 12-2 after losing to LSU in the college football seminals by a 63-38 score. Riley led his team to the playoffs in all three of his seasons in Lincoln, but he has yet to win a playoff game. A victory against their in-state rivals keeps their hopes alive to play in the Big 12 championship game. AP ranks them 18th in the nation. Oklahoma won last year’s version of Bedlam by a 34-16 score as a 14.5-point favorite. Oklahoma State remained competitive for much of that game despite not having the services of either Sanders or Wallace, who had suffered season-ending injuries. Gundy’s Cowboys have only defeated the Sooners twice since he took over the program in 2005.BetAnySports lists Oklahoma as a 7-point favorite with the total set at 59. The ABC broadcast begins at 7:30 PM ET.

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NCAA Friday Night Football: Louisville/Syracuse Preview

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Nov 20, 2020

The Friday night college football game on ESPN involves two ACC teams with disappointing 1-6 records in conference play. Syracuse has lost five games in a row after a narrow 16-13 loss to Boston College as a 14.5-point underdog on November 7th. Freshman quarterback JaCobian Morgan made his first collegiate start in that game with mixed results. He completed 19 of 30 passes for just 188 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. The Orange only gained 240 yards but were only on the field for just over 21 minutes.Head coach Dino Babers moved to the freshman under center with Rex Culpepper struggling in his three starts. The senior has completed only 46.4% of his passes this season with five touchdown passes but six interceptions in 112 pass attempts. He had taken over in mid-October after junior Tommy Devito suffered a season-ending able injury. Syracuse is scoring only 18.3 points-per-game this season, which is 114th in the nation. Their 263.8 yards-per-game mark is 123rd in the country. The Orange’s defense has not fared much better as they rank 103rd in the FBS by allowing their opponents to average 464.4 yards-per-game. Syracuse lost six of their top eight tacklers from last year’s unit that ranked 115th in the nation by giving up 464.1 yards-per-game. The Orange are 1-7 on the season, with their lone win this year against Georgia Tech in September. Babers had 11 starters return from the team that finished 5-7 last year. He has a 24-32 record in his five seasons at Syracuse, with this being his fourth losing season. Louisville has lost two games in a row as well as six of their last seven contests after their 31-17 loss at Virginia last Saturday. Head coach Scott Satterfield settled for the loss despite the Cardinals outgaining the Cavaliers by 110 net yards. Ye three Louisville turnovers were too much to overcome. Junior quarterback Micale Cunningham threw an interception returned for an 85-yard touchdown that began the scoring for the Cavs. Cunningham later fumbled in Virginia territory with 8:22 left in the fourth quarter to short circuit a potential game-tying touchdown. Those events have been the recurring story of the season in Satterfield’s second year with the program. Louisville has turned the ball over 18 times this season, which is the third-most in the nation. The Cardinals have a -12 net turnover margin, which has overwhelmed their +48.5 net yards-per-game advantage. Cunningham rushed for a career-high 197 yards against Virginia on 20 carries with two touchdowns. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 161 yards with no touchdown passes and that one interception. Cunningham is completing 63.2% of his passes for 1907 yards with 15 touchdown passes but nine interceptions, and the dual-threat has added 417 yards on the ground with five more touchdowns. He will not have Javian Hawkins in the backfield after he decided to opt-out for the rest of the season to prepare for the NFL draft. The redshirt sophomore rushed for 822 yards on 6.2 yards-per-carry with seven touchdowns this season. He also had 127 receiving yards with one touchdown reception. Junior running Hassan Hall expects to return after being out the last three games. Louisville returned 16 starters from the team that finished 8-5 with their 38-28 win over Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl. The Cardinals have victories against Western Kentucky and Florida State, but their 2-6 record is far below expectations. Louisville won their meeting last season with Syracuse by a 56-34 score, with Cunningham throwing a career-high five touchdown passes in the victory. BetAnySports lists the Cardinals as an 18.5-point favorite with the total set at 56.5. The ESPN broadcast begins at 7 PM ET.

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Big Al's Daily Angle: NCAA Football Preview

by Big Al Staff

Friday, Nov 20, 2020

Four college football games dominate the Friday sports card. The Friday night college football game on ESPN involves two ACC teams with disappointing 1-6 records in conference play. Syracuse has lost five games in a row after a narrow 16-13 loss to Boston College as a 14.5-point underdog on November 7th. Freshman quarterback JaCobian Morgan made his first collegiate start in that game with mixed results. He completed 19 of 30 passes for just 188 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. The Orange only gained 240 yards but were only on the field for just over 21 minutes.Louisville has lost two games in a row as well as six of their last seven contests after their 31-17 loss at Virginia last Saturday. Head coach Scott Satterfield settled for the loss despite the Cardinals outgaining the Cavaliers by 110 net yards. Ye three Louisville turnovers were too much to overcome. Junior quarterback Micale Cunningham threw an interception returned for an 85-yard touchdown that began the scoring for the Cavs. Cunningham later fumbled in Virginia territory with 8:22 left in the fourth quarter to short circuit a potential game-tying touchdown. Louisville won their meeting last season with Syracuse by a 56-34 score, with Cunningham throwing a career-high five touchdown passes in the victory. The Cardinals are an 18.5-point favorite with the total set at 56.5 (all odds from BookMaker). The ESPN broadcast begins at 7 PM ET.Purdue travels to Minnesota for a 7:30 PM ET kickoff with the Golden Gophers. The Boilermakers opened their season with victories against Iowa and Illinois, but they lost at home by a 27-20 score to Northwestern as a 4-point underdog last Saturday. Purdue managed only 265 yards of offense against the Wildcats. Quarterback Aidan O’Connell completed 28 of 51 passes for 263 yards with two touchdown passes in the losing effort. He is questionable for this game with an undisclosed injury. The Boilermakers are hopeful that not only he plays but that junior wide receiver Rondale Moore makes his season debut after missing the first three games with a lower-body injury. Minnesota continued their disappointing season with a 35-7 loss at home to Iowa last Friday night. The Golden Gophers have also lost to Michigan and Maryland this season, with their lone victory in four games being against Illinois. Expectations were much higher for this team who returned 13 starters from the group that finished 11-2 last year. Minnesota upset Iowa last season with a 38-31 score in Iowa City as a 1.5-point underdog. The Hawkeyes are a 2-point road favorite for this rematch with an over/under of 61. The broadcast is on the Big Ten Network at 7:30 PM ET. Florida Atlantic hosts UMass at 8 PM ET. The Owls raised their record to a 4-1 mark last Friday with their 38-19 victory over Florida International. Freshman quarterback Javian Posey ran for 182 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown while completing 10 of 16 passes for 80 yards with another two touchdown passes. The Florida Atlantic defense has been the biggest story for this team under first-year head coach Willie Taggart as they are allowing only 13.0 points-per-game. UMass has only played two games this season as an independent in a sea of teams mostly restricting themselves to conference games. The Minutemen opened their season with a 41-0 loss at Georgia Southern as a 30.5-point underdog on October 17th. UMass returned to the field on November 7th, where they lost at Marshall as a 44-point underdog by a 51-10 score. FAU is a 32.5-point favorite with a total of 51. The CBS Sports Network has the broadcast.The Friday college football card concludes at 9:30 PM ET with New Mexico traveling on the road to play Air Force in a Mountain West Conference showdown. The Lobos are winless this season after their 27-20 loss to Nevada as a 17.5-point underdog. New Mexico opened their season with a 36-21 loss at San Jose State before losing at Hawai’i the next week by a 39-33 score. Junior quarterback Tevaka Tuioti did not play against the Wolf Pack after entering the concussion protocol. He is doubtful for this game, which likely leaves the Lobos with Trae Hall under center. The redshirt sophomore completed 17 of 32 passes for 195 yards with an interception in his start last week. Air Force opened their season with a 40-7 victory Navy, but they have lost their last two games. The Falcons lost at San Jose State by a 17-6 score on October 24th before losing against on Halloween to Boise State by a 49-30 score. With junior Donald Hammond III leaving the program in the fall, the quarterback position has been unsettled for head coach Troy Calhoun in the fourteenth year with the program. Junior Warren Bryan rushed for 87 yards in the losing effort against the Broncos in their last game after replacing Haaziq Daniels, who got knocked out with a shoulder injury. The sophomore started the first two games for Air Force and should return for this contest. Daniels has rushed for 134 yards with a 5.2 yards-per-carry average while adding a passing threat to the flexbone option by completing 13 of 26 passes for 133 yards. Air Force is a 7.5-point favorite with an over/under of 55.5. FS1 has the broadcast.

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