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Joe Nelson - About Me

Joe Nelson has been a regular on the Vegas Insider leader board since 2006. Well known for producing the Nelly’s Sportsline Green Sheet football newsletter, Nelson provides his very best picks to Vegas Insider clients.
The 2013-14 football season was especially profitable for Nelson, finishing as the Vegas Insider win percentage leader in BOTH the NFL and college football at 60%, finishing as the money leader in the NFL and #2 in money earned in college football amongst the deep and excellent field of handicappers at Vegas Insider. Few handicappers have ever been able to put together such strong finishes in both disciplines in the same season.
Nelson has also produced strong seasons in basketball and baseball in addition to the success in football as a long list of documented top finishes on Vegas Insider indicates. Nelson was also the champion of the prestigious Wise Guys Football Contest in 2011, besting a field of 72 national handicappers and then went on to finish 2nd in the same contest in 2012 for impressive back-to-back finishes.
With a statistics background and years of experience working with several established handicappers as well as over a decade as a professional handicapper, Nelson provides a unique approach with traditional methods as well as innovative strategies. Nelson’s handicapping focuses on team situations, schedule analysis, and line evaluation as well as following a variety of statistical indicators that are incorporated into the process.
You can find regular blog posts and articles for insight and commentary throughout the year and be sure to consider getting on board for a successful season.

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By Joe Nelson
Posted 11/15/2020 at 10:24 AM

Here are a few of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread Saturday in college football. Each week there are misleading final scores and underserving covers, here are a handful of 4th Quarter Covers from last weekend.

North Carolina (-13) 59, Wake Forest 53 (71): As a double-digit underdog Wake Forest scored back-to-back touchdowns before halftime to lead 35-24 in Chapel Hill and then added the first 10 points of the second half to lead by 21 points. The underdog cover proved not to be safe however as the Tar Heels took over in the 4th quarter, eventually taking a 52-45 lead with about four minutes to go. Wake Forest had to go for it on 4th down in their own territory and handed North Carolina a short field and suddenly a 14-point lead had North Carolina past the favorite spread with just over two minutes remaining with five consecutive touchdowns. Wake Forest would convert a 3rd-and-18 for a 46-yard gain and eventually found the end zone inside the final minute, getting a two-point conversion for the six-point final and deserved underdog cover in a game that nearly reached 1,350 combined yards.

Miami, FL (+2) 25 Virginia Tech 24 (68): The Hokies led 14-3 early in this old Big East rivalry but Miami was able to score 10 points in the final five-plus minutes before halftime. The Hokies regrouped at the break and scored the first 10 points of the second half to again go up by 11 points as a slight home favorite. Cam’Ron Harris converted a 4th down and then hit the end zone toward the end of the third quarter to put the Hurricanes within five. Miami’s defense forced back-to-back punts and D’Eriq King led a 10-play drive over 82 yards as the Hurricanes took the lead by one, with Miami failing on a second straight two-point conversion however as the Hokies would only need a field goal to win. On the next offensive snap Hendon Hooker threw an interception but the defense would hold for a pair of late Miami punts. Starting at its own 4-yard line in the final two minutes the Hokies approached midfield and had a few successful laterals on a final desperation play but Miami held on for the comeback win and cover in the closely-lined game.

Northwestern (-3½) 27 Purdue 20 (48): The Wildcats never trailed in this game and pushed the lead to 27-13 in the fourth quarter with a 42-yard field goal. Purdue would make things interesting late, getting a touchdown to cut the margin in half about halfway through the final frame. The Boilermakers held on defense twice to force a pair of 3-and-outs, but the offense couldn’t deliver including taking a costly delay of game penalty on a 3rd-and-short on one of the late opportunities. The Wildcats held on for the win and cover in a defensive battle with neither team eclipsing 300 yards of offense.

Illinois (+5½) 23 Rutgers 20 (52): The Scarlet Knights appeared to take control of this game with a 66-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter to lead by 10. Illinois battled back to get within three late in the third and tied the game with a short field goal early in the fourth quarter. Neither team appeared eager to win as Illinois would miss field goals on its next two possessions while Rutgers had a pair of interceptions. In the final seconds Illinois kicker James McCourt got a chance at redemption and delivered from 47 yards for an Illinois upset.

Nebraska (+2½) 30 Penn State 23 (57½): In a battle of winless Big Ten squads Nebraska had a 27-6 lead at the half. Second halves have rarely been smooth coasts to a win in the Scott Frost era and Penn State won the third quarter 10-0 to have a shot. After holding Nebraska to a field goal early in the fourth the Nittany Lions needed only four plays to cut the deficit in half with a touchdown, trailing by seven with still more than nine minutes remaining. Luke McCaffrey was intercepted near midfield to hand Penn State a great opportunity but with four plays from the 11-yard line Penn State was stopped without adding points. Penn State’s defense held with another stop in a game where the Nittany Lions had a 501-298 yardage edge. Penn State reached the red zone again in the final minutes reaching 1st-and-goal from the 9-yard line but Will Levis was unable to complete a pass as Nebraska escaped with its first win.

Texas Tech (+1) 24 Baylor 23 (54½): Baylor led 23-12 through three quarters after settling for a short 23-yard kick late in the third quarter. That left the door open for Texas Tech, adding a touchdown to get within five following an exchange of punts. Baylor was again forced to punt but the Red Raiders weren’t able to go in front, sent backwards with penalties and getting a field goal on 4th-and-20 with about five minutes remaining. Baylor crossed midfield looking to put the game away but wound up punting to leave the Red Raiders at the 14-yard line. Alan Bowman hit a couple of big gains and SaRodorick Thompson ran the Red Raiders into field goal range. As time expired Texas Tech got the kick for the narrow win in a game that had a near even result on a near even line.



By Joe Nelson
Posted 10/26/2020 at 11:09 AM

Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the first full schedule weekend in college football. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.
Louisiana-Lafayette (-2) 24, UAB 20 (49½): Riding a long home winnings streak UAB led 20-10 late in the third quarter but the Ragin’ Cajuns scored with 20 seconds left in the third quarter to climb within three. UAB had to punt on its opening drive of the fourth quarter and Louisiana turned in an excellent 14-play drive to go 86 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. UAB appeared to be a threat to answer but Bryson Lucero was intercepted at the 18-yard-line and while the UAB defense held, Lucero would be intercepted again in the final opportunity for the Blazers.
Wisconsin (-19) 45, Illinois 7 (51): A sparkling starting debut for Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz had the Badgers up 28-7 at halftime with the only Illinois touchdown coming on a fumble return. Illinois would stay in the mix after a scoreless third quarter before Wisconsin added another touchdown to lead 35-7 in the final frame. Wisconsin melted another seven minutes of clock rushing the ball on its next possession to go up 42-7 while any hopes for the ‘over’ seemed to hinge on Illinois putting a final drive together. With four minutes remaining backup quarterback Isaiah Williams was intercepted and Wisconsin wasn’t quite able to drain the remaining clock, ultimately kicking a 19-yard field goal in the final minute to flip the total result for many.
Coastal Carolina (-1) 28, Georgia Southern 14 (49): Quarterback Grayson McCall was a Saturday morning scratch for undefeated and ranked Coastal Carolina and the line shot downward several points. Backup Fred Payton started much of last season and was productive though both teams had missed opportunities in the first half as Payton had two interceptions while Georgia Southern missed a field goal. A punt return touchdown helped Georgia Southern enter halftime tied 14-14. Both offenses sputtered in the second half with a scoreless third quarter before Coastal Carolina finally cashed in with a big pass play to lead 21-14 with about nine minutes remaining, past a favorite spread that reached -6 on Friday before spiraling downward. Later a 40-yard punt return sparked the Chanticleers for a short field score to go up by 14 before Georgia Southern would be stopped on downs near midfield. In its final opportunity Georgia Southern quarterback Shai Werts had his second interception of the game, matching his total from the previous two seasons combined.
Ohio State (-27½) 52, Nebraska 17 (70): A Nebraska touchdown two minutes into the game offered promise for the heavy underdog but a few minutes into the third quarter Ohio State had taken a 38-14 lead on a defensive score. Nebraska was still covering entering the fourth down by 21 but Ohio State would add another touchdown to lead by 28 and many on the ‘over’ got a late gift as the Buckeyes added a touchdown with 18 seconds left with reserves in the game rather than taking a knee. Ryan Day apologized to Nebraska after the game but the score pushed the scoring to 69, short of the closing number but a winner for plenty on the rise from an opener of 64½.
Auburn (-3½) 35, Mississippi 28 (73): This SEC West clash provided one of the better games of the weekend as these teams were knotted at 14-14 at halftime and 21-21 through three. Auburn struck first in the fourth and went for two, coming up short to lead 27-21. Mississippi answered with a long touchdown drive to take the lead with just over five minutes remaining. Both teams punted on their next possessions before the often-criticized Bo Nix got the ball back with fewer than three minutes remaining on the Auburn 20. He took a sack on first down but delivered a nice gain on the next play and a few plays later connected to Seth Williams for a 58-yard score. Auburn hit the conversion to Williams to lead by seven. Matt Corral and Mississippi had a decent late opportunity to answer eventually getting two plays from the Auburn 29 before a final toss to the end zone was intercepted.
Charlotte (-17) 38, UTEP 28 (49½): This game was tied 14-14 at halftime and Charlotte added a short field touchdown in the third to lead 21-14. The 49ers added a field goal early in the fourth to lead by 10 as the ‘under’ pace held before a flurry of scoring in the final five minutes. UTEP took a sack going for it on 4th down and Charlotte added a touchdown to seemingly put the game away leading by 17 but UTEP answered quickly to get back within 10. Charlotte needed only one play to score again after a failed onside kick and a penalty as the 49ers went back up by 17. UTEP would deliver for the underdog in the final minute hitting a touchdown on 3rd-and-long to keep the final margin to 10 points.
Indiana (+7) 36, Penn State 35 (61½): Indiana led much of this game, up 17-7 at halftime and 20-14 late in the fourth quarter despite Penn State ultimately posting a 488-211 edge in yardage. Down six Penn State had a punt and a failed fourth down on a pair of series before connecting for a 60-yard touchdown pass with 2:30 remaining, going up by one with the PAT. The Hoosiers had no choice but to go for it on 4th-and-21 after Michael Penix was sacked twice and Penn State seemingly had won the game with an incompletion. On first down Devyn Ford rushed into the end zone when taking a knee short of the end zone would have ended the game. Penn State opted to kick the PAT after the score, going up eight past the favorite spread but with the door open for Indiana to match it. The Hoosiers did just that going 75 yards in seven plays and then sneaking into the end zone for the two-point conversion to tie the game. The Hoosiers nearly gave the game away with a brutal kickoff that went only 14 yards and Penn State had a 57-yard field goal attempt miss narrowly at the end of regulation. Penn State delivered a touchdown on third down going first in overtime while Indiana did the same. The Hoosiers opted to for two and the result was Penix scrambling to the corner and diving with the ball stretched out to the pylon. The conversion was ruled successful on the field and while on replay the ball did hit down before connecting the pylon there was not enough room to say it didn’t certainly cross the plane and the Hoosiers kept the two points and the win. Those on the ‘over’ also lucked out with the late scoring and overtime result as the total points were at 34 in the final three minutes of the game and at 56 at the end of regulation.
Purdue (+3½) 24, Iowa 20 (52½): Jeff Brohm was unable to get Nick Saban’s magic elixir and did not coach this game but his team battled back from a 20-14 4th quarter deficit. A 13-play drive reached 4th-and-9 with about eight minutes remaining and Purdue opted to kick for three to half the deficit to just three points, which for the moment was fine for those on the Boilers +3½. Iowa picked up a pair of first down and seemed poised to drain further clock but a 13-yard-gain ended in a fumble in Purdue territory. The Boilermakers converted a pair of third downs along the way and then on 3rd-and-5 with just over two minutes remaining Aidan O’Connell found the end zone with an Iowa stop on the play likely meaning overtime with a field goal try. Iowa approached midfield with a nice first down gain but ended its possessions with four straight incomplete passes.
Oklahoma State (-3) 24, Iowa State 21 (53½): As expected Spencer Sanders returned for Oklahoma State and the Cowboys never trailed in this game for the Big XII lead. Iowa State answered each of the first two scores as the game was tied 14-14 in the third quarter but after a 66-yard Breece Hall run tied the game, Sanders delivered a score not even two minutes later. Oklahoma State added a field goal in the fourth quarter to lead by 10 and forced a pair of punts to effectively end the game. Iowa State would get the ball back with about three minutes to go and made the most of the opportunity eventually cashing in with a 20-yard touchdown pass in the final minute. The PAT made it a three-point final, meaning a push for many but a win for those Iowa State early in the week or a win for a few folks that caught -2½ on Oklahoma State during brief periods Friday night or Saturday morning.


Nelson: Sweet 16 Handicapping Breakdown & Betting Analysis
Nelson: 2021 NCAA Tournament Favorites to Fade, Sleepers to Back
Nelson: Close Calls - Week 4
Nelson: 4th Quarter Covers - Week 5
Nelson: Close Calls - Week 3
2020-2021 CBK #2 Member Leader: +1,057
2020-2021 NCAA FB #3 Money Leader: +838
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2020-2021 NCAA FB #4 Percent Leader: 59%
2020 MLB #3 Totals Leader: +681
2019 MLB Underdog Leader: +2,427
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2018-2019 NCAA BK Record: 56%, +1,941
19-2 NCAA BK Guaranteed Run: 12/21/18 -1/21/19
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2013-2014 NBA #3 Totals Leader: +993
2013-2014 NFL Money Leader: +1,340
2013-2014 NFL Percent Leader: 60%
2013-2014 NFL Guaranteed Leader: +805
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2013-2014 NCAA FB #2 Money Leader: +1,446
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2007-2008 NFL #3 Money Leader: +1,470
2006-2007 NCAA FB Member Leader
2006-2007 NBA #3 Percent Leader: 54%
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