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Early BCS Numbers

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Originally published on Dec. 6.

As the bowl bids were released Sunday (12/5), most sports books in Las Vegas were listing Auburn as a three-point favorite over Oregon in the BCS Championship Game that’ll be played in Glendale on Jan. 10. The total was 74 ½, while the Ducks were plus-130 on the money line (risk $100 to win $130).

Gene Chizik’s team won the SEC by punishing South Carolina 56-17 as a four-point favorite at the Ga. Dome in Atlanta. Cam Newton put on another spectacular performance to make it a given that he’ll be selected as the Heisman Trophy winner on Dec. 11.

The junior QB accounted for six touchdowns and 408 yards of total offense. Newton threw for a career-high 335 yards and four TDs.

Oregon completed its perfect regular season by going into Corvallis and emerging with a 37-20 win over Oregon St. in the Civil War. Most bettors backing the Ducks cashed tickets as 16 ½-point favorites, although a late score might have given some gamblers a backdoor push (a few spots closed at 17).

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The nation’s other unbeaten team, TCU, will go to the Rose Bowl to face Wisconsin. Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the game as a pick ‘em with a total of 53. However, most betting shops were going with the Horned Frogs as three-point ‘chalk’ early Monday morning.

The Badgers have won seven in a row since suffering its lone loss of the season at Michigan St. They have covered the number in six consecutive games.

Gary Patterson’s team has the nation’s No. 1 defense in terms of total yards allowed, scoring defense (11.1 points per game) and pass defense. The Horned Frogs are also ranked fourth in the country in scoring with an average of 43.3 PPG. They have won 10 of their 12 games by 17 points or more.

With TCU gong to the Rose Bowl, Stanford has been relocated to the Orange Bowl to square off against Va. Tech. Most books were listing the Cardinal as a three-point favorite on Monday morning. LVSC sent out a total of 54.

Va. Tech has won 11 straight games, compiling a 10-1 spread record in the process. The Hokies knocked off FSU by a 44-33 count as 4 ½-point favorites in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. Since losing to Boise St. and James Madison in a six-day span to start the year, Frank Beamer’s team has won 10 of its 11 games by 11 points or more.

The Hokies are familiar with the South Florida surroundings, beating Miami 31-17 at Sun Life Stadium on Nov. 20. They also knocked off Cincinnati 20-7 in the Orange Bowl two seasons ago.

Look for rumors of the possibility of Jim Harbaugh bolting Stanford to take the head-coaching job at his alma mater to swirl around this game over the next few weeks. Michigan will play on New Year’s Day against Mississippi St., but I expect Rich Rodriguez to get fired after that game regardless of the result.

Arkansas and Ohio St. will collide in New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4. Most books had the Buckeyes as three-point favorites Monday morning. LVSC opened the total at 57.

The last BCS game will go down in Glendale at the Fiesta Bowl, where Oklahoma will take on Connecticut. Most books have installed the Sooners as 17-point favorites and LVSC sent out the total as 55.

OU will be returning to a venue that hasn’t been nice to it through the years. The Sooners lost the 2007 Fiesta Bowl to West Va. by a 48-28 score as 7 ½-point favorites. The season before, Boise St. stunned Bob Stoops’ team 43-42 as a seven-point ‘dog in overtime. Chris Petersen opted to go for a two-point conversion in the extra session, calling a statue-of-liberty play that worked when QB Jared Zabransky and RB Ian Johnson executed to perfection.

UConn is a four-loss team, but it has won five in a row both straight up and against the spread. The Huskies, who won at USF to win the Big East in their regular-season finale, play solid defense and use a ball-control offense that features workhorse RB Jordan Todman, who has rushed for 1,574 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Oklahoma rallied from a 17-0 deficit to beat Nebraska 23-20 in the Big 12 title game, but the Sooners failed to cover the spread as 4 ½-point favorites.

Other intriguing bowl matchups include Michigan State-Alabama, LSU-Texas A&M and FSU-South Carolina.

That’s right, Steve Spurrier will go against the Seminoles for the first time since 2001 when the Gators thumped FSU, 37-13. This game left Spurrier steamed because UF lost Earnest Graham (and thus, its running game for Tennessee and All-American DT John Henderson the following week) to a sprained knee when FSU’s Darnell Dockett purposely twisted the knee at the bottom of a pile.

On Sunday in Columbia, Spurrier told the Associated Press, “I don’t have any hatred toward those guys anymore. I used to, obviously. We had a nice rivalry. You know, some years there they sort of tried to hurt the quarterback – I didn’t like that very much. So that (was) irritating. But that’s all history. That’s way back – a long time ago.”

Translation of Spur Dog Language: “I used to hate their coaches. You know, Mickey and Bobby."

Alabama will try to bounce back from its Iron Bowl collapse against the Spartans at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. The availability of QB Greg McElroy remains unclear after he sustained a concussion in the 28-27 loss to Auburn on Nov. 26. Michigan St. is 11-1 with its only loss coming at Iowa.

Texas A&M has won six in a row both SU and ATS and carries the look of a team that could be worthy of preseason top-10 consideration in 2011. The Aggies will face LSU in the Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 7.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--You have to feel for the Boise State Broncos, who have been relegated to a Dec. 22 bowl game against Utah. On the bright side, Kellen Moore and Co. will get to go to Vegas where they’ll take on the Utes at Sam Boyd Stadium.

--Nevada, which avoided the letdown spot in a 35-17 win at La. Tech in its regular-season finale, will be bowling in San Francisco. The Wolf Pack will face Boston College in the Fight Hunger Bowl on Jan. 9. Look for Chris Ault’s team to be favored by double digits.

--Boston College has won five in a row, going 4-1 ATS. The Eagles wrapped up the regular season by winning 16-7 at Syracuse as 3 ½-point underdogs.

--Arizona will look to bounce back from a double-overtime loss to Arizona St. when it plays Oklahoma St. in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29.

Brian Edwards can be reached at briane@vegasinsider.com.

For daily sports gambling analysis, follow Brian Edwards on twitter at Vegasbedwards.

  
HEADLINES
Florida State wins 37-21, OK State covers
Gurley leads Georgia past Clemson, 45-21
Hilliard, LSU stun Wisconsin in 28-24 win
Alabama survives, West Virginia covers
Ohio State pulls away from Navy, 34-17
UCLA wins 28-20 on road, UVA covers
Golson, Notre Dame cook Rice 48-17
Nebraska rolls over Florida Atlantic, 55-7
Idaho-Florida canceled after lightning, rain
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