This is the time of year when it’s important to take note of two situations that have a significant impact in college football handicapping: Five-win teams who are just one victory away from bowl eligibility, and national title contenders who need to decimate the opposition in order to impress the voters/computer/dude behind the curtain.
US PRESSWIREUrban Meyer's Buckeyes need to win...and win big.
The latter was on full display last week in Columbus, Ohio, where the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes absolutely throttled the Penn State Nittany Lions, 63-14. Ohio State is on the outside looking in at the moment and needs several more performances like the one we saw last Saturday if Urban Meyer’s crew wants any chance to contend for the national championship.
With Alabama, Oregon and Baylor all on the bye this weekend, don’t be surprised if the Buckeyes (-31) take full advantage of the national stage for their tilt with Purdue prior to the Miami-Florida State showdown.
Last week: 3-4
Season: 32-20-1 (.615)
CLICK HERE to check out all of the current lines.
USF Bulls (2-5, 1-1 road) at Houston Cougars (6-1, 2-1 home)
When: Thursday, 7:00pm ET
Open: Houston -10.5
Current: Houston -17.5
USF in 2013: 3-4 ATS, 5-2 to the UNDER
Houston in 2013: 7-0 ATS, 4-3 to the OVER
Analysis: We’re getting the absolute worst of it here, but at least we’re getting it with a squad that has covered the number in every single game this season. Houston dropped a heartbreaker to BYU two weeks ago for their first defeat of the season and then traveled to the east coast for an early start time against Rutgers last Saturday. The result? A 49-14 ass-kicking that saw the Cougars roll up 611 yards of offense while outscoring the Scarlet Knights 21-0 during the second half. South Florida is averaging only 14.2 points per game this season, has notched a grand total of just six combined points over the second half of their last three games and is 7-20-1 ATS over their last 28 games overall. Meanwhile, Houston is 20-8 ATS over their last 28 games overall.
Notable Trends: USF is 0-9 ATS over their last nine Thursday games while Houston is 20-7 ATS over their last 27 games against teams with a losing record.
Pick: Houston (-17.5)
#21 Michigan Wolverines (6-1, 1-1 road) at #22 Michigan State Spartans (7-1, 5-0 home)
When: Saturday, 3:30pm ET
Open: Michigan State -3.5
Current: Michigan State -4.5
Michigan in 2013: 4-3 ATS, 5-2 to the OVER
Michigan State in 2013: 4-3-1 ATS, 5-3 to the UNDER
Brady Hoke's Wolverines have struggled big time on the road this season.
Analysis: The Wolverines are 0-5 against the number over their last five meetings with the Spartans and we don’t see any reason to believe why that trend will come to an end Saturday in East Lansing. Michigan State plays a clean brand of football that features a 2013 turnover differential of +6, sack differential of +12 and a stalwart defensive unit that is surrendering an average of just 12.3 points per game on the season (third-fewest in NCAA). In addition, Sparty is 20-8-1 ATS over their last 29 games against teams with a winning record while Michigan is just 7-20-1 ATS over their last 28 road games. Take note that Michigan’s only two road contests this season include a 24-21 squeaker over 0-7 Connecticut and a 43-40 loss at Penn State.
Notable Trends: Michigan is 3-7 ATS over their last ten games following a straight-up win while Michigan State is 10-4-1 ATS over their last 15 games following an against the spread win.
Pick: Michigan State (-4.5)
New Mexico State Aggies (1-7, 0-3 road) at UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (5-2, 2-0 home)
When: Saturday, 5:00pm ET
Open: UL Lafayette -27
Current: UL Lafayette -31
New Mexico State in 2013: 1-6 ATS, 6-1 to the OVER
UL Lafayette in 2013: 4-3 ATS, 4-3 to the OVER
Analysis: If there’s one thing New Mexico State does well, it’s get blown out on the road. The Aggies, who have dropped seven matchups this season by an average of 32.0 points per game, are just 2-26 straight-up over their last 28 road contests while getting outscored by an average of 26.2 points per game. In addition, New Mexico State currently ranks 115th in the nation in scoring (18.5 pts/gm), 126th in scoring defense (45.9 pts/gm) and is 3-13 ATS over their last 16 games overall. Meanwhile, UL Lafayette is 4-0 ATS over their last four home games and 7-1 ATS over their last eight games following a straight-up win. New Mexico State got their lone win of the season last Saturday (34-29 over Abilene Christian), so the Aggies can feel free to shut it down knowing they won’t go winless in 2013.
Notable Trends: New Mexico State is 0-6 ATS over their last six road games while UL Lafayette is 19-7 ATS over their last 26 games played on turf.
Pick: UL Lafayette (-31)
#11 Auburn Tigers (7-1, 1-1 road) at Arkansas Razorbacks (3-5, 3-2 home)
When: Saturday, 6:00pm ET
Open: Auburn -10
Current: Auburn -8
Auburn in 2013: 6-2 ATS, 4-4 to the OVER
Arkansas in 2013: 2-6 ATS, 5-2-1 to the OVER
It didn't take Gus Malzahn long to get Auburn back to its winning ways.
Analysis: How’s that move to the SEC working out for ya, Bret? Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema bolted a solid Wisconsin program last winter for Arkansas, where his inauguration into the powerhouse Southeastern Conference has resulted in a 45-33 home loss to Texas A&M, 30-10 road defeat at Florida, 52-7 home disaster against South Carolina and, most recently, a 52-0 road drubbing courtesy of Alabama. On the other side of the field this Saturday stands fellow first-year head coach Gus Malzahn, who has transitioned the Tigers from a 3-9 sewage treatment facility into a 7-1 contender that boasts an upset road win (45-41) over Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies. Note that Auburn has covered the number in five straight outings while Arkansas is just 1-6 ATS over their last seven games overall.
Notable Trends: Auburn is 4-0 ATS over their last four games against teams with a losing record while Arkansas is 3-13 ATS over their last 16 games against teams with a winning record.
Pick: Auburn (-8)
Pittsburgh Panthers (4-3, 1-2 road) at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-3, 3-1 home)
When: Saturday, 7:00pm ET
Open: Georgia Tech -10
Current: Georgia Tech -10
Pittsburgh in 2013: 2-5 ATS, 4-3 to the UNDER
Georgia Tech in 2013: 4-3-1 ATS, 5-3 to the OVER
Analysis: A three-game losing streak (vs. Virginia Tech, at Miami, at BYU) was immediately followed by a two-game winning streak (vs. Syracuse, at Virginia) putting Georgia Tech one win away from bowl eligibility exactly one week before the Yellow Jackets go on the bye, so Paul Johnson’s crew would love nothing more here than to qualify for the postseason before their November vacation. Pitt has covered the number in just one of their last five games and is 0-4 ATS over their last four road contests, while Georgia Tech is 6-1 ATS over their last seven home games.
Notable Trends: Pittsburgh is 4-9 ATS over their last 13 conference games while Georgia Tech is 8-2-1 ATS over their last 11 conference games.
Pick: Georgia Tech (-10)
Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh
MAR 11 Joel Corry
Six teams set to enter free agency with plenty of available salary cap space.
MAR 11 Jerry Angelo
How NFL teams approach that integral period of time that takes place from free agency until the draft.
MAR 07 Joel Corry
Front offices and agents of soon-to-be free agents can begin discussions this weekend.
MAR 04 Jerry Angelo
At some point, even the best partnerships in the NFL will begin to dissolve.