November 10, 2012
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TEXAS A&M AGGIES (7-2) at ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (9-0)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Alabama -13.5 & 57
Opening Line & Total: Crimson Tide -13.5 & 56.5
No. 1 Alabama seeks its 10th win this season when it faces No. 15 Texas A&M on Saturday.
These schools have met just four times (twice in the Cotton Bowl) with Alabama going 3-1 SU with a lopsided 30-10 win in the most recent matchup in 1988. Texas A&M is coming off a 38-13 blowout win at Mississippi State and has 52.3 PPG in its seven SU victories this year. Its two losses were to Florida and LSU, the same team the Tide eked out a victory against last week, prevailing with a game-winning TD drive in the final minute. Alabama is just 1-3 ATS at home this year despite outscoring visitors 146 to 28 (scoring margin of 29.5 PPG). The Aggies' offense is fast-paced and built to overwhelm inferior defenses. It is not built to outfox great defenses. They historically don't fare too well on the road against good teams (10+ PPG margin), going 12-30 ATS (29%) in this scenario since 1992. And considering home favorites after 7+ straight SU wins are 82-39 ATS (68%) in conference games in the past 10 seasons, the Tide should have no trouble smothering the Aggies and running up a big victory at home.
Texas A&M freshman QB Johnny Manziel ranks second in the nation in total offense with 383 YPG. He's thrown for 16 TD and just 6 INT while rushing for another 15 scores, including eight over the past four games. He has totaled an incredible 24 TD in five road games this year (7 TD at home). Top RB Ben Malena has also been strong in SEC road contests, rushing for 317 yards (7.5 YPC) and 3 TD in three conference road tilts. The Aggies have been a bit turnover-prone (6 TO at Ole Miss, 5 TO vs. LSU), but they have just one miscue over the past two weeks (wins at Auburn and Mississippi State), piling up 101 points and 1,364 yards of offense (682 per game). Defensively, the Aggies have been much more sound since allowing Louisiana Tech to hang 57 points on them. In the three games since, A&M opponents have just 19.3 PPG and 320 total YPG, lowering its season numbers to 21.0 PPG and 377 total YPG.
Alabama QB AJ McCarron had a poor showing against LSU (14-of-27, 165 yds), but he came up big on the game-winning drive capped off by his 19th TD pass of the season. He still hasn't thrown a single interception all year despite 204 pass attempts. Another big reason for Alabama's success has been freshman RB T.J. Yeldon, who has been especially outstanding in the past four games, rushing for 433 yards (8.0 YPC) and six touchdowns. He also caught the game-winning TD pass last week. RB Eddie Lacy has also had a strong season, rushing for 679 yards (5.7 YPC), including 83 in the last game. Defensively, Alabama still leads the nation in scoring defense (9.1 PPG), but fell to second in total defense (229 YPG) after allowing a season-high 435 yards (296 passing) to LSU. Considering how potent Kevin Sumlin's offense is at A&M (560 YPG, 5th in nation), this could be a big problem for the Tide. Alabama ranks fourth in FBS in turnover margin (+1.7 TO per game), but did not force any LSU miscues last week.
MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS (7-2) at LSU TIGERS (7-2)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: LSU -15.5 & 44
Opening Line & Total: Tigers -14 & 44.5
No. 7 LSU looks to bounce-back from a rare home loss when it faces a team it has dominated in recent years, No. 21 Mississippi State.
LSU has not lost a home game to Mississippi State since 1991 and has won 12 straight SU (9-3 ATS) overall in this series, allowing seven points or less in seven of these victories, including each of the past two seasons (29-7 and 19-6 wins). The Bulldogs have been crushed in the past two weeks by Alabama (38-7) and Texas A&M (38-13), while the Tigers had the No. 1 Tide down before allowing a game-winning TD drive with 0:51 left to play. LSU has outscored the Bulldogs 452 to 144 (25.7 PPG margin) during the 12-game series win streak. MSU surrendered 693 total yards at home to Texas A&M last Saturday, while the Tigers rolled up 435 total yards of offense against the nation's-best defense, more than double the 203 total YPG allowed by Alabama before its visit to Baton Rouge. Even with Saturday's loss, LSU is a ridiculous 36-2 SU in Saturday night games under Les Miles, who is also 18-1 SU after a loss.
Mississippi State's offense has done very little in the past two weeks, scoring just 20 points with a mere 145 rushing yards (3.0 YPC). Considering how great LSU's run-stop unit has been (103 YPG, 12th in nation), this meager rushing output isn't expected to make a significant jump. That leaves it up to QB Tyler Russell to keep his team in this game by throwing the football. He's in the midst of a pretty strong season with 1,954 passing yards (7.4 YPA), 16 TD and just 3 INT, but this is not a good matchup for him. The last time he visited Baton Rouge two years ago, he tossed three interceptions in just 10 pass attempts. And as good as LSU's rushing defense is, the passing defense is even better, ranking second in FBS with just 150 passing YPG allowed. Although Mississippi State has committed five turnovers in its past two road games, it has one giveaway or less in the other seven games it has played this year, and LSU thrives on stripping the football. If MSU doesn't turn the ball over, it has a shot to hang around in this one.
LSU QB Zach Mettenberger threw for 298 yards versus 'Bama's top-ranked defense, which was actually a season-high for him. But the Tigers are much better running the football, as their 201 rushing YPG ranks third in the SEC. Freshman Jeremy Hill was the workhorse last week with 107 yards on 29 carries (3.7 YPC), marking his third straight 100-yard game. But if his lower-body injury sustained last week limits him on Saturday, both Michael Ford (370 rush yds, 5.9 YPC) and Spencer Ware (268 rush yds, 3.9 YPC) are capable backs. Considering Mississippi State just allowed 361 rushing yards (6.2 YPC) to Texas A&M last week, expect a heavy dosage of carries from LSU's ground game. Defensively, the Tigers have forced a whopping 23 turnovers this season, with multiple takeaways in each of the past seven games.
NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (9-0) at BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES (2-7)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Notre Dame -19 & 47.5
Opening Line & Total: Fighting Irish -18.5 & 47.5
Unbeaten No. 4 Notre Dame tries to stay lucky for at least one more week when it visits Boston College on Saturday afternoon.
B.C. won six straight games in this series from 2001-2008, but Notre Dame has won the past three meetings, including a 16-14 squeaker last year. The unbeaten Irish, who have five wins by seven points or less this year, have played much better outside of South Bend, going 4-0 (SU and ATS) with a combined score of 141 to 29. The Eagles are 1-7 (SU and ATS) versus FBS teams this season, and have the third-fewest rushing yards in the nation (74.7 YPG), getting outrushed 604 to 52 in the past three weeks. All the trends are pointing to a blowout win for Notre Dame here. Not only are road favorites of 10.5 to 21 points a whopping 28-6 ATS (82%) over the past five seasons after 5+ straight SU wins on a Saturday, but home underdogs of 14.5 or more points, after gaining 100 or less rushing yards last game, are just 21-58 ATS (27%) in the past five seasons.
Irish QB Everett Golson was benched in the second quarter of last week's game versus Pittsburgh, but returned in the second half and led his team to the 29-26 victory in triple overtime. Golson finished the day with a season-best 301 total yards of offense and three touchdowns including the game-winning QB sneak in the third extra session. He should be able to post another 300-yard day against a B.C. defense allowing 479 total YPG (11th in ACC), including 233 rushing YPG (6th-most in nation). Golson also knows he'll have time to throw against an Eagles team that has just six sacks for the entire season (tied for fewest in FBS) and only 31 Tackles For Loss (2nd-fewest in nation). Irish leading rusher Cierre Wood (537 rush yds, 3 TD) will also help out with the ground game, hoping to find more holes than he did in last year's meeting, when he finished with just 94 yards on 26 carries (3.6 YPC) against Boston College. Theo Riddick has been great for the Irish in the past three games with 302 rushing yards (5.4 YPC), and although he has never carried the football versus B.C., he did catch nine passes for 69 yards and a TD when he last faced the Eagles in 2010.
Although B.C. has just one win versus an FBS opponent this year (20-17 versus injury-ravaged Maryland), the Eagles have a history of ruining great seasons for the Irish, most recently in 2002 when Notre Dame entered the game 8-0. But the B.C. offense has been dreadful this year (22.1 PPG), and it won't get any better against the Irish, who rank second in the nation in scoring defense (11.7PPG) and 10th in total defense (295 YPG). B.C. will not have leading RB Andre Williams (584 rush yds, 4 TD) who suffered an abdominal injury last week versus Wake Forest. David Dudeck replaced Williams, but managed just 32 yards on 14 carries (2.3 YPC) against the Demon Deacons. The only way for the Eagles to hang in this game is for QB Chase Rettig to have a huge afternoon. In last year's loss to Notre Dame, Rettig was a pedestrian 18-for-38 for 176 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT, but has thrown at least one TD pass in every game this season, with 16 TD and 8 TD to complement his 285 passing YPG. His favorite target is junior WR Alex Amidon, who has seven games of 99+ receiving yards, including each of the past three contests, where he's totaled 26 catches for 385 yards and 2 TD. Boston College has committed eight turnovers in the past three games, including four at Wake Forest last week.
OREGON DUCKS (9-0) at CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS (3-7)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Oregon -28.5 & 67
Opening Line & Total: Ducks -27.5 & 67.5
No. 3 Oregon looks to secure its 10th straight win to start the season when it visits struggling Cal on Saturday night.
The home team is on a 7-2 run (SU and ATS) in this series, but Oregon has won the past three meetings (2-1 ATS), including a 15-13 win at Cal in 2010 in a game where the Bears were accused of faking injuries to stop the no-huddle attack. Nobody has stopped the unbeaten Ducks in 2012, as they have scored at least 42 points in every game and are riding a current four-game ATS win streak. California has dropped three in a row (SU and ATS), and is just 1-4 (SU and ATS) in home games versus FBS schools this season. Cal is just not equipped to handle this high-powered Ducks attack that has rushed for more than 400 yards in three straight games, including two road games versus highly regarded Pac-12 teams -- USC and Arizona State. Cal's offense is just playing horribly, committing 10 turnovers in the past three games, and it may not have its starting quarterback healthy for this contest. Also, favorites of 21.5 to 31 points in conference games, after scoring 35+ points in a win over a conference rival, are 53-17 ATS (76%) in the past 10 seasons.
Oregon RB Kenjon Barner is coming off a school-record 321 rushing yards and 5 TD in the 62-51 win at USC last week, a game in which OU piled up 730 total yards of offense. That marks Barner's fifth straight 100-yard effort, as he's totaled 885 rushing yards (177 per game) and 13 TD over this span. The Ducks are scoring 56.8 PPG with 575 total yards per game (384 rush YPG) during the current four-game ATS win streak. Freshman QB Marcus Mariota threw four touchdown passes in the win over the Trojans, giving him 22 TD and just 5 INT this year. The defense got lit up for 51 points and 615 yards in last week's win at USC, but they have been outstanding in turning the football over with 21 takeaways over the past six games.
Cal actually led last year's meeting at halftime before Oregon rolled up 29 unanswered points and prevailed 43-15. The Bears will have a much harder time staying in this game if starting QB Zach Maynard's knee prevents him from playing. His numbers haven't been stellar in his senior year (7.5 YPA, 12 TD, 10 INT) but a lot of that has to do with the ridiculous 39 sacks he's taken. Only two FBS teams (Colorado 40 and Washington 40) have surrendered more sacks this year. Maynard completed just 20-of-41 passes for 218 yards (5.3 YPA), 1 TD and 0 INT in last year's loss in Eugene. If Maynard can't go, Allan Bridgford will replace him. The junior has completed just 17-of-48 pass attempts (35%) in his career, including 4-of-16 for 32 yards in two games this year. RBs C.J. Anderson and Isi Sofele will be the most important parts of the Bears offense. Anderson rushed for 160 yards on 7.3 YPC in last week's loss to Washington and Sofele had a huge game at Oregon last year with 119 yards on just 12 carries. Although Cal's defense has not faced an offense in the same class as the Ducks, the Bears started the season allowing 27+ points in each of its first five games, but has given up 21 points or less in four of the past five contests. And Oregon has been turnover-prone with 17 giveaways in the past eight games.
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