Pac-12 and Big 10 Highlight Sunday College Basketball …

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The Big Ten and Pac-12 will highlight action Sunday in college basketball. The month of March begins today and that means the NCAA tournament and March Madness cannot be far away.

Nevertheless, teams are battling for position in their respective conferences preparing for the start of their conference tournament in less than 2 weeks.

Out west, the Oregon Ducks visit the Stanford Cardinal, while the Purdue Boilermakers visit the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Oregon followed its huge upset of Utah 69-58 last Sunday as a home dog by 4.5 points, with an important 80-69 win over California as a road dog of 2 points this past Wednesday.

The Ducks are 7-1 straight up and 6-2 against the spread in their past eight games overall.

Stanford routed Oregon State by 27 points on Thursday as a home favorite of 9 points. However, the Cardinal is only 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS in its past 7 games played.

Oregon is 4-1 ATS over its past five games after a win SU. The Ducks have covered 6 of their past 8 games on Sunday.

Sanford is 1-5 ATS in its past 6 games played on Sunday. The Cardinal is 6-3-1 ATS in its past 10 games played at home.

The visiting team is 5-3 SU and ATS in this matchup over the past 8 games.

Purdue visits Ohio State on Sunday as an underdog of 9.5 points. The Boilermakers have made some noise of late at 8-1 SU and ATS in its past 9 games overall. On Thursday, the Boilermakers defeated Rutgers 92-85, but failed to cover as a home favorite of 14 points.

All five Purdue starters scored 10 points or more in the win over Rutgers.

Ohio State has had a few problems down the stretch with a 3-3 SU and ATS record of its past 6 games played. However, they look strong in a rout of Nebraska 81-57 on Tuesday as a favorite at home by 13.5 points.

Purdue is 17-5 ATS over its past 22 games versus an opponent with a winning straight up record and is 6-1 ATS over its past 7 games following a win SU.

Ohio State has covered the spread in its past 6 games played at home but is 4-9 ATS over its past 13 games after a win ATS.

Head to head, the team at home is 7-2 SU over the past 9 games played. Ohio State is 4-2 ATS over the past 6 games between the two teams.

Purdue defeated Ohio State 60-58 SU and ATS as a favorite by 1.5 points.

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Two Top 10 Teams Face Tough Conference Games on the Road

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A championship caliber college basketball team can win on the road when they are supposed to. On Saturday, two teams in the AP top-10 will face tough road tests when the No. 6 ranked Wisconsin Badgers visit the Michigan Wolverines in a Big 10 showdown and the No. 7 ranked Arizona Wildcats visit California in a Pac-12 showdown.

Wisconsin is favored by 10.5 points in its game. The Badgers are 5-1 in conference play, but the only loss was to Rutgers almost two weeks ago, as a road favorite by 15 points.

Wisconsin is 2-3-1 ATS in Big 10 action and the total has cashed to the OVER in 4 of the 6.

Frank Kaminsky is the leading scorer for the Badgers. The 7-footer is scoring just under 17 points a game, while the team is averaging almost 74 per game.

Michigan is coming off a win of 54-50 over Rutgers as a road dog by 2.5 points.

The Wolverines are 5-2 SU and 4-3 ATS in Big Ten play.

Michigan overall is 12-7 SU and 6-12 ATS, with the total cashing to the UNDER in 11 of 17.

Wisconsin is 3-7-1 against the number in their past 11 Big Ten games. However, Wisconsin is 9-4-1 against the spread over their past 14 games after a win straight up.

The point total has cashed on the OVER in 8 of their past 10 games versus conference opponents.

Michigan is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 games at home and 4-10 against the number in its past 14 games overall. The total has cashed on the UNDER in five of Michigan’s past six games played at home.

Head to head between Michigan and Wisconsin, the team at home has covered the number in five of the past seven games overall. The UNDER has cashed in the past four games between the two played at Michigan.

Out west, No. 7 ranked Arizona plays at California. Arizona is favored by 11.5 points.

Arizona won its last outing 89-82 over Stanford as a road favorite of 3.5 points. It was the Wildcats fifth win in its six conference games.

The only loss in the conference was to Oregon State 58-56, as a road favorite of 10 points.

In Pac-12 play, Arizona is 4-2 against the number. In four of the six conference games, the total has cashed UNDER.

California is 4-17 ATS in its past 21 conference games. The Golden Bears have not covered in five of their past six games played at home.

The total has cashed OVER in 18 of California’s past 24 games against teams with a winning straight up record.

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Michigan Gets Their Man; More College Football Thoughts

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Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh is the next head coach at Michigan but how long will he stay?

University of Michigan Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett made it very clear in the days following the firing of Brady Hoke; having a “Michigan man” was no longer a top priority.

There was always an exception to that rule and his name was Jim Harbaugh. Yesterday, Harbaugh became the 20th head football coach of the Wolverines. There is no one more “Michigan man” than Harbaugh who started at quarterback from 1984-1986 for the Bo Schembechler -led teams who were so successful.

I must admit I’m surprised Harbaugh spurned the National Football League and especially for less money than what he could have gotten from just about any of those teams. I think that two things played a major factor in his decision however.

Number one is that of the available NFL jobs, none had a quarterback that Harbaugh really wanted to work with and that’s vitally important for the old QB because as we know he can flat-out coach quarterbacks (see Andrew Luck). The Raiders and Jets both have young signal-callers but neither was enticing enough for Harbaugh.

The argument could be made that both Atlanta and Chicago have good, veteran quarterbacks in Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler but each have their issues.

The second reason Harbaugh chose to leave the NFL is because I really feel he was tired of seeing what was happening to his alma mater an the call to come home and fix it was too great.

Michigan fans will once again pack the seats at Michigan Stadium to see the prodigal son return and he will make the program prominent once again but I caution them this; the desire to win a Super Bowl never leaves you as a player or coach if you’ve had a taste of it and Harbaugh has. I believe his stint in Ann Arbor will be five years or less because that desire will be too strong to avoid.

Stoops

The OU faithful are starting to wonder what's going on with Bob Stoops.

Bowl Game Bullets

-What on Earth has happened to Bob Stoops and Oklahoma? They were a preseason top five team who ended up finishing with five losses following a humiliating 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. That score wasn’t indicative of how poorly Oklahoma played either. It was 40-0 after three quarters and Clemson pretty much emptied the bench in the final stanza. I have a feeling Stoops falls into that category of having been in the same place too long.

-I could be way off base here, but I think the Pac-12′s success in these early bowl games is a sign that Florida State better strap it up tomorrow when they face Oregon in the Rose Bowl. After Stanford’s 45-21 drubbing of Maryland last night in the Foster Farms Bowl, the Pac-12 moved to 4-0 in bowl season making them the only unbeaten conference remaining. Let’s face it – the level of competition between the ACC and Pac-12 wasn’t really a discussion topic anyway was it?

-As if I needed any more proof for my personal war against instant replay reviews in football I give you the LSU-Notre Dame game. Mad Hatter Les Miles went for a fake field goal and replays clearly showed the ball breaking the plane of the goal line but officials concluded it was disputable because of where the knee was. Here’s the thing, if the knee was down the play is over based on where the ball is when the knee touches right? The ball was over the goal line. If you can’t get replay right that you shouldn’t use it.

-Have a great New Year’s Eve and be safe people.

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College Football Conference Championship Lines and Trends

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This is championship week in college football with a number of conferences playing their conference championship games.

MAC – Northern Illinois vs. Bowling Green

Northern Illinois is 10-2 and 6-6 ATS, while Bowling Green is 7-5 SU and 4-7-1 ATS.

Friday night, the two will face off in Detroit, Michigan. NIU has opened as a 3-point favorite.

This is the fifth consecutive season Northern Illinois will be vying for the trophy. The Huskies are 2-2 in the previous four.

The two teams played in last year’s MAC Championship with Bowling Green winning 47-27.

The underdog is 5-1 ATS over the past 6 championship games.

Pac-12 – Arizona vs. Oregon

Arizona is 10-2 SU and 5-7 ATS, while Oregon is 11-1 SU and 8-4 ATS.

The two will meet on Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Oregon has opened as a favorite by 13.5 points.

This is the fourth championship game for the Pac-12. The favorite is 2-1 SU and 0-3 ATS in the first three Pac-12 championship games.

The Pac-12 North is 3-0 SU in the first three championships.

Arizona was a road dog by 21.5 points in October and defeated Oregon 31-21.

SEC – Alabama vs. Missouri

Alabama is 11-1 SU and 4-8 ATS, while Missouri is 10-2 SU and 8-4 ATS.

Alabama meets Missouri for the SEC championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

Alabama opened as the favorite by 10.5 points but that has increased already to 13 points.

In the SEC championship, the underdog is 11-10-1 ATS.

The SEC West is 5-0 SU in the past 5 SEC championship games. Missouri lost in last year’s championship to Auburn by 17 points as a favorite by 2.5 points.

The teams last met in 2012 with Alabama winning 42-10.

ACC – Florida State vs. Georgia Tech

Florida State is undefeated at 12-0 SU and 3-9 ATS, while Georgia Tech is 10-2 SU and 5-1 ATS.

Florida State will defend its ACC title against Georgia Tech at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Florida State was a 5.5-point favorite to open but it is now just 4 points.

FSU is 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS in its four prior trips to the ACC Championship. Georgia Tech is 1-2 SU in its three trips.

The two played in the ACC Championship in 2012 with FSU winning 21-15.

Big 10 – Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

Ohio State is 11-1 SU and 7-5 ATS, while Wisconsin is 10-2 SU and 7-5 ATS.

Ohio State plays Wisconsin for the Big 10 title in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Wisconsin is favored by 4 points.

The underdog is 1-2 SU in the 3 prior Big 10 championship games.

Wisconsin is 2-0 SU in two Big 10 title games and Ohio State is 0-1 SU.

T.J. Barrett the OSU quarterback is out with broken ankle.

Ohio State is 4-1 SU in its past 5 games head to head with Wisconsin.

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Lots of Leftovers for Your Wagering Plate

Hoke
Hoke

Saturday is likely the end for Brady Hoke's tenure at Michigan.

Today would normally be a day to sit down and give you the breakdown on a handful of college games that are going on today and tomorrow. Instead, I’m going to give you much more. Kind of like how you went back for more turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc.

Loosen your belt and enjoy. (My picks are in BOLD)

Northern Illinois (+7) at Western Michigan – Both teams are tied atop the MAC West with Toledo at 6-1. WMU has won six-straight but needs help while a NIU win gives them the title.

Virginia (-1) at Virginia Tech – Both teams enter at 5-6. The winner goes bowling while the loser goes home and perhaps starts searching for a new head coach.

Nebraska (EVEN) at Iowa – There are some suggesting this game could determine Bo Pelini’s fate in Lincoln while Kirk Ferentz appears to be in Iowa City for life.

Arkansas (-3) at Missouri – The Razorbacks are playing as well right now as any team in the country. They’ve posted back-to-back shutouts over LSU and Ole Miss. A Mizzou win gives them the SEC East title.

Rich

Rich Rodriguez and his Wildcats host rival Arizona State in a game with major implications.

Arizona State (+2.5) at Arizona – This one is simple. The winner stays alive in the Pac-12 South race while the loser is out. This is one of the great rivalries in college football that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Stanford (+6) at UCLA – The disappointing season of Stanford finishes in the Rose Bowl where it all unraveled last season in a loss to Michigan State. The Bruins appear to be peaking and remain a long-shot for the college football playoff should chaos ensue at the top.

Saturday’s Action

Michigan (+21) at Ohio State – Brady Hoke needs a win just to make UM officials even consider keeping him. The Buckeyes have been heavy favorites before against the Wolverines but have struggled to win. Not today… This one will get ugly.

Minnesota (+14) at Wisconsin – Minnesota has to be ticked at being a two-touchdown dog at Wisconsin. The Gophers have played well in wins and losses this season and this one is for the Big 10 West title. Look for lots of running in this one.

Washington (-3) at Washington State – The Battle for the Apple Cup features the bowl-bound Huskies against a Cougars’ team that has struggled all season. Mike Leach’s job security in Pullman can only be described as “not very good” at the moment.

Baylor (-25) at Texas Tech – TCU is in the clubhouse at 11-1 after drubbing Texas. Baylor now must hold serve in order to keep their playoff chances alive. The Red Raiders can score points but their defense is…. Going to be abused today. Normally anything over 21 points scares me but not today.

Georgia Tech (+13) at Georgia – The Yellow Jackets are already in the ACC Title game against Florida State. The Bulldogs will already know if they are in the SEC Title game by the time they wake up today. Either way, I expect home-field to be important.

Oregon (-20) at Oregon State – What a disappointing season this has been for the Beavers. I expected so much more from Sean Mannion and company… The Ducks know the drill; win today and win the Pac-12 title and they’re in the playoff. OSU won’t go easily though and keeps it close.

Auburn (+9) at Alabama – Nothing can top last year’s game so let’s forget that right now. Bama has been a machine at home this season while Auburn has really fallen apart in recent weeks.

Florida (+7.5) at Florida State – The Seminoles have done nothing easy all season and that will continue today. In Will Muschamp’s final game coaching the Gators, I expect them to keep it close.

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USC hosts Fresno State to Start Sarkisian Era

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College football is back and with it comes some controversy. In southern California, the USC Trojans will host the Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday night in a rematch of the Las Vegas Bowl of last year in which the Trojans easily defeated the Bulldogs 45-20 as a favorite by 5 points.

The point total cashed on the UNDER as the line was 65.5 and the teams combined for 65.

In that game, Cody Kessler the Trojans quarterback had 345 yards passing with four touchdowns.

He returns to lead the Trojans under new head coach Steve Sarkisian.

The Fresno State Bulldogs have had to replace Derek Carr a starter at quarterback for three years who moved on to the NFL. Brian Burrell a junior and Brandon Connette a senior transfer from Duke will share the duties early.

On Bovada and sportsbook.com, the current line has USC favored by 21.5 points. While on betonline and topbet, the point total is sitting on 58.

Interesting trends in the matchup:

  • The UNDER has cashed in 12 of the past 16 games USC has played non-conference opponents.
  • The Bulldogs are 13-4 against the number in their past 17 road games.
  • The UNDER was 6-2 last year for Fresno State in the last 8 games after the OVER had started 4-1.

Controversy took hold at USC this week when a story broke that Josh Shaw the starting cornerback injured himself when he saved his nephew. However, it turned out that his story was a lie and he hurt his ankles doing something else.

Anthony Brown also quit the team amidst reports that he said Sarkisian was racist.

USC has changed its offense to a more up-tempo formation with Sarkisian. The key to the Trojans this season will be if their offensive line can hold up.

Fresno State will certainly miss Carr but will continue using its own up-tempo offense. Last season the Bulldogs were sixth in the nation in scoring was 43.4 points per game.

Defensively the Bulldogs were weak finishing No. 95 in yards allowed. Eight starters have returned and there should be some improvement over last season.

For USC, Shaw and Lamar Dawson a linebacker are out and Jabari Ruffin a linebacker will miss the entire season.

Dillon Root a kick returner for Fresno State is suspended.

This could be a big beat down on USC’s part over Fresno State. The Bulldogs have a big uncertainty at their quarterback position, while USC has Kessler securely entrenched as their quarterback.

Sarkisian wants to impress everyone at USC, especially the alumni and that could mean lots of scoring on the Trojans part.

A big win by USC will make the two controversial incidents of earlier this week disappear.

I like the Trojans by at least 28 if not more.

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Oregon and UCLA Favored to Meet in Pac-12 Championship

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The Pac-12 will be a very competitive conference this season. Oregon is favored to win the North division while UCLA is considered the top team in the South.

Overall, the Oregon Ducks are 5 to 7 favorites to win the conference championship. The conference has one of the best teams in the country in Oregon and a number of others that will be bowl hunting at the end of the season.

This could be the year, the Pac-12 crawls out from under the shadow of the SEC.

UCLA is on team that will push Oregon to the limit and could come out on top if the two were to meet in the conference championship game.

According to Bovada and sportsbook.com, the Bruins were 10-3 last season and have drawn 5 to 2 odds to be Pac-12 champions, which is the second shortest behind just Oregon.

Brett Hundley the junior quarterback returns after deciding to play one more year, before heading to the NFL. His returning to the team is the biggest reason the short-term future for UCLA is very bright.

Hundley is 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds. He is a dual threat at quarterback. Last season he threw for 3,072 yards and ran for another 748. He threw 24 touchdown passes, ran for 11 touchdowns and caught one.

UCLA has also a strong defense led by Myles Jack a linebacker who also played at running back during his freshman season last year. He earned the Defensive as well as Offensive Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

Coaches at UCLA say Jack is not a two-way player. However, Hundley is not saying the same thing, suggesting he will play some on offense.

Jack only ran the ball 38 times last season but scored seven touchdowns.

Oregon is the odds on favorite to win the conference and contend for a national championship behind Marcus Mariota their junior quarterback and one of the early favorites for the Heisman Trophy.

Mariota is also a dual threat at QB. According to topbet and betonline, last season he threw for 4,438 yards with 41 touchdown passes, despite a knee injury.

He did not miss any games, but did struggle in a loss to Stanford. Oregon has an opportunity to redeem themselves against Stanford this season on November 1.

The conference championship might run through Eugene and Westwood, but other teams like Arizona State, Washington and USC will make the conference schedule very interesting.

ODDS for PAC-12 CHAMPIONSHIP

OREGON DUCKS 5 to 7

UCLA BRUINS 5 to 2

USC TROJANS 9 to 2

STANFORD CARDINAL 12 to 1

WASHINGTON HUSKIES 12 to 1

ARIZONA ST SUN DEVILS 15 to 1

ARIZONA WILDCATS 30 to 1

UTAH UTES 50 to 1

OREGON ST BEAVERS 60 to 1

WASHINGTON ST COUGARS 200 to 1

CALIFORNIA GOLDEN BEARS 200 to 1

COLORADO BUFFALOES 200 to 1

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