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Games to Watch - Week 10

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The Week 10 college football card isn’t exactly the best we’ve seen this season, but there are some monster games looming in Week 11. And we don’t even have to wait until the weekend.

A pair of Thursday contests will go a long way toward deciding who gets invited to Pasadena, as Baylor takes on Oklahoma in Waco and Oregon ventures into Palo Alto to face Stanford. All four teams have open dates this weekend.

The LVH SuperBook in Las Vegas updates its lines for Games of the Year every week. The current number for Baylor is 12 for its home game against the Sooners, who haven’t been double-digit underdogs since losing 45-12 to Texas on Oct. 8 of 2005 when they were catching 14 ½ points. The Bears are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games as double-digit favorites.

LVH has the Ducks listed as 10-point favorites at Stanford. The Cardinal suffered a huge loss earlier this week when it was determined that DE Ben Gardner is out for the season with a pectoral injury. Gardner, a two-time second-team All Pac-12 selection, was second on the team in sacks (4.5) and third in tackles for loss (7.5).

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Oregon will looking to avenge a 17-14 home loss to Stanford in overtime last season that prevented it from playing for the national title. When these schools squared off last in Palo Alto, the Ducks rolled to a 53-30 win as 3.5-point road underdogs.

During David Shaw’s tenure, Stanford has only been a home underdog once. The Cardinal beat USC by a 21-14 count as a 7 ½-point home puppy last year.

You may remember that Alabama was an 11-point favorite for next week’s showdown vs. LSU last week. After smashing Tennessee 45-10 last weekend, LVH adjusted the Crimson Tide to a 12-point ‘chalk’ against the Bayou Bengals.

LSU won a 9-6 defensive struggle in overtime in its last visit to Bryant-Denny Stadium. However, that loss was avenged by Nick Saban’s squad in a 21-0 rout at the Superdome to win the 2011 BCS title. Then in Baton Rouge last season, A.J. McCarron’s screen pass to T.J. Yeldon for a touchdown in the final minute capped a 21-17 comeback win for the Tide.

LSU is still alive in the SEC West race. It needs to win out and hope that Auburn can knock off Alabama on The Plains in the Iron Bowl. In that scenario, LSU would go to the Ga. Dome by virtue of the tiebreaker advantage over ‘Bama (and potentially Texas A&M as well).

But the odds are stacked against Les Miles’s squad. Sportsbook.ag currently has Alabama as the -800 ‘chalk’ (risk $800 to win $100) to win the SEC, while LSU has 100/1 odds.

With South Carolina’s epic rally to win at Missouri in double overtime last weekend, the SEC East is wide open again. The Tigers appeared poised to essentially clinch the division in October before Connor Shaw sparked the Gamecocks to victory in comeback fashion.

Sportsbook.ag now has Missouri and South Carolina sharing the second-shortest odds to win the SEC at 8/1 (or +800). The Florida-Georgia winner will still be alive in the East. The Bulldogs have 20/1 odds to win the SEC, while UF’s number is 40/1.

Believe it or not, but Auburn controls its own destiny to get to Atlanta. Gus Malzahn’s squad wins the West if it wins out. The offshore website has AU with 12/1 odds to win the SEC.

In the Big Ten, Sportsbook.ag has Ohio State as the -300 favorite (Bet $300 to win $100). The next-shortest odds belong to Michigan St. (+300), Michigan (+500), Nebraska (+800) and Wisconsin (20/1). The Spartans can take control of the Legends Division with a win over Michigan in East Lansing this weekend.

The shortest odds to win the Pac-12 obviously belong to Oregon (-300) and Stanford (+300). The mystery is who will come out of the other division. Sportsbook.ag has Arizona St. with +600 odds, while UCLA’s future number is +700.

Let’s go back to Games of the Year from LVH now. While Bama-LSU will steal the spotlight next weekend, I love the under-the-radar showdown that’ll take place at Camp Randall. BYU is on a serious roll and will be gunning for Wisconsin. LVH has the Badgers as 10-point home favorites.

Other Games of the Year numbers listed below:

South Carolina -7 ½ vs. Florida
Nebraska -1 vs. Michigan State
LSU -5 ½ vs. Texas A&M
Oregon -27 vs. Oregon State
Ohio State -7 at Michigan
FSU -14 ½ at Florida
South Carolina -3 ½ vs. Clemson
Texas A&M -3 at Missouri
Alabama -14 at Auburn

Outside of Saturday’s showdown between Florida State and Miami, Fl. from Tallahassee, I believe bettors should keep an eye on three other conference clashes in Week 10.

Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
As of Wednesday morning, most books had Georgia (4-3 SU, 1-5-1 ATS) listed as a 2 ½-point favorite with a total of 47 ½. Both schools are coming off bye weeks. Florida (4-3 SU, 2-5 ATS) has dropped back-to-back games at LSU (17-6) and at Missouri (36-17), while UGA is also hoping to avoid a three-game losing streak after going down vs. Mizzou (41-26) and at Vandy (31-27). The Bulldogs will get RB Todd Gurley back after a 3.5-game absence stemming from a sprained ankle suffered in the second quarter of a 44-41 home win over LSU on Sept. 28. Also, WR Michael Bennett (‘questionable’) could return and starting safety Tray Matthews has been upgraded to ‘probable.’ Bennett and Matthews were both injured in the second half of a 34-31 overtime win at Tennessee on Oct. 5. UF has lost eight players to season-ending injuries and it was down an additional pair of starting defensive linemen in the loss at Missouri. DT Damien Jacobs and DE Ronald Powell remain question marks this week and it hasn’t been easy to get accurate injury information out of Gainesville this season. UGA senior QB Aaron Murray was enjoying a monster season before many of his weapons went down with injuries, including RB Keith Marshall, WR Malcolm Mitchell and WR Justin Scott-Wesley, each of which is out for the season. But Murray still has a solid 17/6 TD-INT ratio and will welcome Gurley and possibly Bennett back this weekend. The Bulldogs had not beaten UF in back-to-back contests until the last two seasons when they won by scores of 24-20 and 17-9. The Gators committed six turnovers in last year’s encounter, including Jordan Reed’s fumble inside the UGA five in the final minute. UF third-year coach Will Muschamp is winless in six games of this rivalry, with the first four defeats coming in the early ‘90s when he played safety at UGA. Looking for a spark offensively, Florida will finally give true freshman Kelvin ‘Baby Fred’ Taylor his first career start at tailback. Taylor has looked explosive with increased playing time the last two games. The son of Fred, the Gator legend, Taylor has rushed 28 times for 172 yards and one TD, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. CBS will have the telecast at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

Michigan at Michigan State
As of Wednesday morning, most spots had Michigan St. (7-1 SU, 4-3-1 ATS) as a six-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 46. Gamblers can back the Wolverines on the money line for a +200 return (risk $100 to win $200). The Spartans have the nation’s top-ranked defense that’s giving up only 12.2 points per game. They are actually third in scoring defense but No. 1 in total ‘D’ and rushing defense. Michigan (6-1 SU, 4-3 ATS) is fortunate to have won six of its seven games, dodging major upsets in comeback triumphs over Akron (28-24) and UConn (24-21). Michigan is an abysmal 1-4 ATS in five games as a road underdog during Brady Hoke’s tenure. Mark Dantonio’s team had won four straight in this rivalry until dropping a 12-10 decision in Ann Arbor last season. Nevertheless, the Spartans have covered the number in five consecutive games against Michigan. Also, the ‘under’ has cashed in four straight head-to-head encounters. The ‘under’ is 5-3 overall for Michigan St., but the ‘over’ is 5-2 for the Wolverines. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

Tennessee at Missouri
As of Wednesday morning, most betting shops had Missouri (7-1 SU, 6-1-1 ATS) installed as an 11 ½-point favorite with a total of 55 ½. Tennessee (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS) beat a ranked team for the first time since 2009 two weeks ago when it clipped South Carolina 23-21 on a walk-off field goal from Michael Palardy. The Volunteers are 1-2 ATS in three road assignments this year under first-year coach Butch Jones. UT quarterback Justin Worley is out for the rest of the regular season with a torn ligament in his thumb. Therefore, Josh Dobbs will get his first career start against the Tigers. The true freshman made his debut in the second half of last week’s 45-10 loss at Alabama and looked decent. Dobbs made a few plays, completing 5-of-12 passes for 75 yards. He ran for 19 yards on three carries. Missouri QB James Franklin is ‘doubtful’ but is probably only two weeks away from getting back into the lineup. RB Henry Josey (head) and CB E.J. Gaines (quad) are ‘questionable.’ Gaines has missed back-to-back games. Gamblers shouldn’t concern themselves too much with Josey’s injury. Although he is Missouri’s best RB, Marcus Murphy and Russell Hansbrough are more than capable of carry the load. Gary Pinkel’s team blew a 17-0 fourth-quarter lead in last week’s 27-24 home loss to South Carolina in double overtime. Both schools have seen the ‘over’ hit at a 5-3 overall clip this year. When these teams met at Neyland Stadium last season, the Tigers captured a 51-48 win as 3 ½-point underdogs in four overtimes. ESPN will have the telecast at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

  
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