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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES 11/24

By Joe Nelson
Posted 11/25/2008 at 01:23 PM

Several of the big games with BCS implications were a bit of a letdown in terms of entertainment value. Oklahoma absolutely routed Texas Tech in the top 5 showdown that was over quickly. Coach Mike Leach was in line for a big payday with lucrative offers coming, those may still come but the embarrassing national TV loss is a setback. The debate between Texas and Oklahoma will rage on but both teams face tricky rivalry games this week and the Big 12 title game will not be a cakewalk against Missouri in Kansas City.

Utah delivered a big win over BYU in the Holy War and that game was much closer than the final score indicated. It was a close game most of the way and Utah won by just 24 despite a 6-0 turnover advantage. Boise State was also a winner to stay undefeated and the Broncos nearly gave the game away with four turnovers of their own.

Two of the most exciting finishes last Saturday featured missed extra points. Oregon State scored late against Arizona to seemingly tie the game but a missed PAT left the Beavers and their Rose Bowl hopes down 16-17. Miraculously the Beavers D held and got the ball back and OSU kicker Kahut got redemption with the winning field goal.

In my home city Wisconsin labored through a tougher than expected game against FCS Cal-Poly. The Badgers trailed throughout the game but Cal-Poly kicker Gardner missed two extra-points which allowed the Badgers to tie the game late with a 2-point conversion. In OT the Mustangs scored on their first play to take the momentum right back but the missed PAT left the door open and Wisconsin survived. Although it would have made headlines as a big upset, Cal-Poly is very good team that earlier this year beat San Diego State and is now 8-2 on the year. Based on the Sagarin ratings Wisconsin would have only been about a 14-point favorite in the game as Cal-Poly would grade higher than about 40 FBS teams, and Saturday’s result certainly proved that assessment.

In the NFL road teams continue to dominate. Road teams are covering nearly 58 percent of the time, an incredible result for such a simple formula. Road favorites have been even more dominant, hitting 66 percent on the season and double-digit underdogs are now hitting just shy of 81 percent with only four missed covers on the season. In what logically seems like a tough situation, teams playing a second consecutive road game are now 28-14-1 on the season for nearly 67 percent wins. Trends often defy logic and convention and although they are never reason enough to take a side they are worth knowing about.

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