Games to Watch - Week 11
November 6, 2013
By Brian Edwards
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BYU at Wisconsin
As of early Wednesday, most books had Wisconsin (6-2 straight up, 7-0-1 against the spread) favored by 7 ½ with a total of 55 ½. The Badgers are the nation’s lone team without a blemish on their spread record with the exception of a push in a 31-24 loss at Ohio State as seven-point underdogs. Gary Andersen’s team escaped Iowa City with a 28-9 win last weekend that was much closer than the final score indicated. UW, which covered the number as a nine-point road favorite, played excellent defense all day. The Badgers forced the Hawkeyes into three short field goals and hooked up the offense with great field position thanks to two second-half interceptions deep in Iowa territory. UW converted both turnovers into touchdowns with the second score getting it ahead of the number for the first time all day with 6:29 remaining. James White’s second rushing TD was the icing on the cake with 1:35 left. Senior LB Chris Borland, a two-time first-team All Big Ten selection, dressed at Iowa but missed another game with a hamstring issue. He is expected to play this week, but WR Jared Abbrederis is a question mark with a chest injury. Abbrederis has a team-high 46 catches for 782 yards and six touchdowns. BYU (6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS) owns an 11-6-1 spread record in 18 games as a road underdog during Bronco Mendenhall’s nine-year tenure. The Cougars have won five in a row, going 4-1 ATS. They have had two weeks to prep for this trip to Camp Randall after blasting Boise St. 37-20 two Fridays ago as seven-point home favorites. Sophomore QB Taysom Hill is on fire with an 11/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the last four games. He has rushed for a team-high 841 yards and eight TDs. Hill’s accuracy as a passer is steadily improving and he reminds you a little bit of Tim Tebow with his size and power running style. The ‘under’ is 5-3 overall for BYU, 2-1 in its road assignments. The ‘under’ is 5-3 overall for Wisconsin, 3-1 in its home games. If this game were a UFC fight, it would be a serious candidate for Fight of the Night honors. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
Nebraska at Michigan
As of early Wednesday, most betting shops had Michigan (6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS) listed as a seven-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 57 ½. The Wolverines are coming off a 29-6 defeat at Michigan St. as four-point underdogs. They were limited to 168 yards of total offense by the nation’s No. 1 defense. The loss essentially eliminated Michigan from the Big Ten race. Devin Gardner is a dual-threat QB who has rushed for 474 yards and nine TDs, but he has struggled with consistency throwing the ball. Gardner has a 13/11 TD-INT ratio. During Brady Hoke’s three-year tenure, Michigan owns an 11-6 spread record as a home favorite, including a 4-1 ATS mark in such spots this year. Nebraska (6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS) kept alive its hopes for a return to the Big Ten Championship Game by beating Northwestern 27-24 last weekend on a Hail Mary pass on the game’s final play. However, the Cornhuskers failed to cover the spread as four-point home favorites. Senior QB Taylor Martinez, a first-team All Big Ten selection in 2012, has only played once since a Week 3 home loss to UCLA. In 3 ½ games, Martinez had a 10/2 TD-INT ratio but he’s ‘out’ again this week with a hip pointer. On Bo Pelini’s watch in six seasons, Nebraska is 2-4 ATS as a road underdog. The ‘under’ has cashed at a 3-1 clip in Nebraska’s last four games. Meanwhile, Michigan has seen the ‘over’ go 5-3 overall, 4-1 in its home games. ABC will have the telecast at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
Mississippi State at Texas A&M
As of early Wednesday, most books had Texas A&M (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS) favored by 19 with a total of 66. If Johnny Manziel decides to turn pro, a likely scenario for sure, this will be the final game of his legendary career at Kyle Field. Manziel threw four TD passes and ran for two more scores in last week’s 57-7 win over UTEP as a 47.5-point home ‘chalk.’ For the season, Johnny Football has a 26/8 TD-INT ratio and eight rushed scores. His favorite target Mike Evans is second in the country in receiving yards with 1,147 on 52 receptions. The Aggies’ defense is the reason they aren’t in the SEC hunt. This unit gives up 29.8 points per game. Mississippi St. (4-4 SU, 3-5 ATS) fell to 1-3 in conference play by dropping a 34-16 decision at South Carolina as a 13-point underdog. QB Dak Prescott ran for a pair of TDs but was intercepted three times by the Gamecocks. Prescott returned home earlier this week to be with his family after his mother lost her battle with colon cancer. It is unknown whether or not Prescott will make the trip to College Station. Tyler Russell will most likely get the starting nod. The Bulldogs are 4-10 ATS as road underdogs during Dan Mullen’s five-year tenure. The ‘over’ is 7-2 overall for the Aggies, 5-2 in their home games. The ‘under’ is 5-3 overall for MSU, 3-0 in its road contests. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
Houston at Central Florida
As of early Wednesday, most spots had Central Florida (6-1 SU, 6-1 ATS) installed as a 10 ½-point favorite with a total of 64. The Golden Knights suffered their lone loss of the year at home vs. South Carolina by a 28-25 count, but they quality wins at Penn St. and at Louisville on their resume. UCF is led by junior QB Blake Bortles, who has thrown for 1,870 yards. Bortles has a 15/4 TD-INT ratio and two rushing scores. RB Storm Johnson averages 5.2 yards per carry and has nine rushing TDs. Houston (7-1 SU, 7-1 ATS) saw its nine-game ATS winning streak dating back to last season snapped in last Thursday’s 35-23 win over South Florida as a 19-point home favorite. True freshman QB John O’Korn has been the catalyst for Houston this season, posting a 22/4 TD-INT ratio. RB Ryan Jackson The Cougars are 3-1 ATS as road underdogs since Tony Levine took over for Kevin Sumlin. The ‘under’ is 4-3 overall for UCF, 2-1 in its home games. The ‘over’ has hit in three straight games for Houston to improve to 5-3 overall. ESPN2 will have the telecast at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
UCLA at Arizona
As of early Wednesday, most spots had UCLA (6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS) favored by one with a total of 56. Arizona had won five straight over UCLA both SU and ATS until getting hammered 66-10 last season as a 3 ½-point road underdog. Jim Mora Jr.’s team dropped back-to-back games at Stanford (24-10) and at Oregon (42-14) before beating Colorado 45-23 last Saturday. But the Bruins, who were 30-point home favorites, failed to cover the number for the third straight game. UCLA’s recent ATS woes can, in part, be attributed to three injuries to starting offensive lineman. Two of those players are out indefinitely while the Bruins hope to get Simon Goines (knee, ‘questionable’) back this weekend. QB Brett Hundley has a 16/8 TD-INT ratio and six rushing scores. Hundley was without his leading rusher Jordon James for a three-game stretch due to a sprained ankle. James returned last week but was ineffective with only eight rushing yards on six totes. Arizona (6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS) won its first three games before losing at Washington and at USC. Since then, Rich Rodriguez’s squad has won three in a row, going 2-1 ATS. They struggled to sneak past California by a 33-28 count as 14-point road favorites last week. UA is led by QB B.J. Denker and RB Ka’Deem Carey. Denker has a 9/3 TD-INT ratio and 11 rushing TDs in R-Rod’s spread offense. Carey has rushed for 1,076 yards and 10 TDs. The ‘under’ is 5-3 overall for both schools. ESPN will have television coverage at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
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