College Football Week 6, NFL Week 5 Free Picks

LSU vs. Mississippi State, 7:00PM ET
Zach Mettenberger joined the Heisman race with his stellar performance last Saturday versus Georgia. Unfortunately for him and the rest of the Tigers, the defense was downright brutal trying to defend Aaron Murray and the UGA offense. LSU has issues in its defensive backfield and it uncharacteristically didn’t generate any pressure with its front four last weekend. The Tigers are 0-3-1 against the spread in their last four conference games, while the Bulldogs are 5-1 against the number in their last six home games and 5-1 ATS in their last six home games versus a team with a winning road record. Take the value with the home dog.
FREE PICK: MISSISSIPPI STATE +7

Arizona State vs. Notre Dame, 7:30PM ET
While Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix remain some of the best defenders in the country, Notre Dame’s defense hasn’t been nearly as impressive this season as it was a season ago. Meanwhile, junior quarterback Taylor Kelly has thrown for more than 300 yards in each of Arizona State’s first four games and junior transfer Jaelen Strong has racked up 433 receiving yards and two touchdowns. The Fighting Irish could have a difficult time keeping up on the fast track of Cowboys Stadium and their offense isn’t nearly consistent enough to keep pace. Brian Kelly’s squad is 0-5-1 against the spread in its last six games overall and 0-3-1 ATS in its last four games versus a team with a winning record. Lay the points with ASU.
FREE PICK: ARIZONA STATE -6

Lions vs. Packers, 1:00PM ET
The Lions are coming off a statement game against the Bears but they’ve always struggled in Green Bay. They’re 0-4 against the spread in their last four games versus the Packers and 4-11-1 ATS in their last 16 trips to Lambeau Field. Detroit has also had trouble over the years away from Ford Field, and is 1-4 against the number in its lat five road games. Green Bay should be well rested coming off the bye and is well aware that it can’t fall further behind in the NFC North. Expect Aaron Rodgers’ best effort and for the Pack to win in a rout.
FREE PICK: PACKERS -7

Saints vs. Bears, 1:00PM ET
The Saints are firing on all cylinders offensively, while Rob Ryan has made an immediate impact for their defense. Despite injuries, Ryan is getting the most out of his players and is generate consistent pressure on a weekly basis. That said, the Saints are coming off a short week of practice and had to leave a day early for Chicago because of inclement weather. Not only has their routine been affected, but they’re also taking on a Bears team that will be plenty pissed off after their ugly performance a week ago in Detroit. The Bears are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games after allowing more than 30 points in their previous game, while the home team is 4-0-2 ATS in the last six meetings between these two teams.
FREE PICK: BEARS PICK’EM

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College Football Week 4, NFL Week 3 Free Picks

Good luck with your picks this week and hope this helps. You can easily find great sites for all your football betting needs with some research.

Michigan State vs. Notre Dame, 3:30PM ET, Saturday
There’s tremendous value in the Spartans on Saturday. Granted, their defense hasn’t been tested yet but they rank fifth nationally with an average of 126.7 passing yards against. Perhaps most importantly is that sophomore Connor Cook emerged last week from a crowded quarterback competition by throwing for four first-half touchdowns and 202 yards against Youngstown State. Running back Jeremy Langford has also scored four touchdowns on the season and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, so MSU should generate plenty of offense this weekend. The Spartans are 7-1 against the spread in their last eight trips to South Bend, while the road team is 11-2 against the number in the last 13 meetings between these two teams. Granted, Notre Dame is seeking its 10th consecutive win in South Bend but the Irish looked vulnerable on the road last week versus Purdue. This is a field goal game either way and if you like the Spartans, jump on them now. The line has already moved down to 4.5 after opening at 6.
FREE PICK: MICHIGAN STATE +4.5

Arizona State vs. Stanford, 7:00PM ET, Saturday
The Sun Devils are coming off of what many would deem as a “gift” win over Wisconsin after the officiating crew blew the end of last Saturday’s game. But ASU will gladly take the victory and will look towards Saturday, which coach Todd Graham says “is a great opportunity for us to take a step forward as a program.” Stanford won’t be easy to overcome. The Cardinal is 8-2 at home against ranked opponents since 2009 and boasts a defense that returned eight starters from a unit that statistically was the best in the Pac-12 last season. That said, the Sun Devils are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games overall and the coaching staff knows what a win over the Cardinal could do for the program. The line has already been bet down two full points in this one – you can expect ASU’s best effort.
FREE PICK: ARIZONA STATE +5.5

Falcons vs. Dolphins, 4:05PM ET, Sunday
The Falcons have been absolutely ravaged by injuries in the early going. It was revealed following the team’s Week 1 loss to the Saints that Roddy White suffered a high-ankle sprain in preseason, and just this past week Steven Jackson (thigh), Sean Weatherspoon (foot), and Kroy Biermann (Achilles) all fell victim to serious injuries. Atlanta was already having issues running the ball so without Jackson in the starting lineup, the feat could become impossible. Losing Weatherspoon and Biermann also force DC Mike Nolan to play with inexperienced players at crucial spots defensively, and this was already a unit that struggles to generate pressure. On the other side, the Dolphins have been impressive while winning both of their games on the road. Ryan Tannehill has looked sharp in the early going and finally got on the same page as receiver Mike Wallace, who had a big game in Indy last week. With the public jumping on the underdog Falcons, the Dolphins are a value at under a field goal. Miami goes to 3-0.
FREE PICK: MIAMI DOLPHINS -1

Buccaneers vs. Patriots, 1:00PM ET, Sunday
The Bucs have been a mess both on and off the field thus far. They scored a combined 31 points in their first two games and there have been reports questioning Josh Freeman’s leadership and whether or not coach Greg Schiano is a fit. That said, in both of their games they squandered leads with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. While the unit has failed to close out games in the final minutes the past two weeks, the Bucs wouldn’t have been in either contest had it not been for Bill Sheridan’s defense. Tampa will play a New England team on Sunday that had issues moving the ball last week against Rex Ryan’s Jets. Tom Brady was visibly frustrated with his young receiving corps during the game and without Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, there’s reason to believe that the Pats could continue to struggle offensively. New England opened as a 9.5-point favorite but the spread has already been bet down a full point. The Bucs have a ton of issues but their defense should give them a chance on Sunday.
FREE PICK: TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS +8.5

College Football Week 3 Picks & Predictions

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Texas A&M, 3:30PM ET
The most anticipated matchup of Week 3 will take place at Kyle Field in College Station today. One thing that has made Nick Saban so successful is his ability to get his team focused on one game at a time. But you know he and the Crimson Tide have circled this date since Johnny Manziel and A&M rolled into Tuscaloosa and upset ‘Bama a year ago. The Aggies are just 1-4 all-time at home against top-ranked teams and since the start of the 2008 season, the Tide are 41-0 when it has fewer turnovers than its opponent. Look for ‘Bama to limit its mistakes, keep the ball on the ground (they’re 51-0 when rushing for at least 140 yards) and generate pressure on Manziel. If they can stay disciplined defensively and maintain good gap responsibility, they should get their revenge.
PREDICTION: ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE -9

Tennessee vs. No. 2 Oregon, 3:30PM ET
Butch Jones tried to ratchet up the tempo this week in practice in order to get his players ready for what they’ll see today in Eugene. But Oregon is too fast, too athletic and too skilled on the perimeter for an overmatched Tennessee squad. The Ducks are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games overall, 4-1 ATS in their last five home games, and 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following an ATS win. The Vols, meanwhile, are 0-4 against the number in their last four games versus the Pac-12 and 0-7-1 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS win. Look for Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas to run wild on a gassed Tennessee defense in the second half.
PREDICTION: OREGON DUCKS -28

No. 19 Washington vs. Illinois, 6:00PM ET
This game has become more interesting in the past two weeks. Washington turn heads by crushing Boise State in Week 1 and Illinois surprised the masses by routing a previously underrated Cincinnati team 45-17 last Saturday. While quarterbacks Keith Price and Nathan Scheelhaase will receive all of the attention tonight, keep an eye on Huskies junior middle linebacker and defensive leader John Timu (13 tackles vs. Boise), and the duo of Jonathan Brown and Mason Monheim for the Illini. The under is 5-1 in Illinois’ last six neutral-site games and 4-0 in the Huskies’ last four games in September. While defense won’t dominate this game, the combined score should fall under the total.
PREDICTION: UNDER 63

No. 21 Notre Dame vs. Purdue, 8:00PM ET
The Fighting Irish have won five straight games against the Boilermakers but two of those contests were decided on Notre Dame’s final drive. The Irish have new players on both sides of the ball that are growing on the job, which is part of the reason why their defense allowed 411 yards per game over their first two contests. Quarterback Tommy Rees is still trying to find his rhythm as a passer too, so look for this game to be somewhat tight. The underdog is 6-2 against the spread in the last eight meetings between these two teams and the Irish are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall.
PREDICTION: PURDUE BOILERMAKERS +18.5

It’s a good day to be a college basketball fan

Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski (L) talks with University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill head coach Roy Williams prior to the teams’ NCAA basketball game in Durham, North Carolina February 9, 2011. REUTERS/Ellen Ozier (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Check out this lineup of college hoops today (all times ET):

12 PM: #2 Kansas @ #24 Missouri (CBS)
The Jayhawks need a victory in Columbia to win the Big 12 outright. They have a one-game lead over Texas with one game to play and are hoping to secure a #1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament as well. Meanwhile, Missouri is hoping to complete an unbeaten season at home.

2 PM: #7 Notre Dame @ #16 UConn (ESPN)
It’s senior night for the Huskies, who have beaten the Irish seven straight times at Gampel Pavilion. Notre Dame can earn the #1 seed in the Big East tournament with a win today and a Pittsburgh loss to Villanova.

4 PM: #19 Villanova @ #5 Pittsburgh (CBS)
Villanova has faded after a strong start to the season, but could still spoil the Panthers’ bid to be the top seed in the Big East Championship if they’re able to upset Pitt on their home floor. The Panthers need a win to solidify their bid to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

6 PM: #14 Florida @ #20 Vanderbilt (ESPN)
These two teams went into overtime the first time they met this season and the Gators can clinch the outright SEC title with a win against the Commodores in Nashville.

8 PM: #4 Duke @ #13 North Carolina (CBS)
The ACC regular season championship is on the line as the Blue Devils face the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill. In the first meeting at Cameron, UNC had a 16-point lead before Duke came back to win 79-73. Duke is hoping to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and needs a win tonight to round out its resume.

It’s not often that there are five Top 25 matchups lined up every two hours like there are today. And don’t forget, #10 Wisconsin plays #1 Ohio State at 4 PM (on CBS) on Sunday.

2011 College Football Program Power Rankings

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor hands off the ball to tailback Dane Sanzenbacher in the third quarter at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans during the 77th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl January 4, 2011. The Buckeyes won 31-26 UPI/Dave Fornell

Almost a year ago we decided to try to quantify the stature of college football programs so that we could rank them against one another. (Click here for the 2010 Rankings.) Then our football guru, Anthony Stalter, wrote a little bit about each program and the direction that it’s headed.

Here’s how the total points are determined — 20 points for a national championship, 10 for a BCS title game loss, seven for a BCS bowl win, five for a BCS bowl loss, five for a BCS conference championship, three for a mid-major conference championship, two for a BCS conference runner-up and one for a major bowl appearance (i.e. a bowl that has a recent payout of more than $2 million, so for 2011 that would be Capital One, Outback, Chick-fil-A, Cotton, Gator, Insight, Holiday, Champs Sports and Alamo.) You’ll see the total points in parenthesis after the team’s name.

We put some thought into the point values for each accomplishment, paying special attention to how the point values are relative to one another. For example, we figured that one national championship would equate to four BCS conference championships, or three BCS bowl wins. We only looked at the last five years, as college football has increasingly become a fluid and fickle sport, and that’s about how far back a recruit will go when deciding amongst a list of schools.

Lastly, since a program is so dependent on the guy in charge, we added or subtracted points if the program saw an upgrade or downgrade at the head coach position in the last five years. A max of 10 points would be granted (or docked) based on the level of upgrade or downgrade. Again, we tried to quantify the hire relative to the program’s other accomplishments. For example, hiring Nick Saban is probably worth two BCS bowl appearances, or 10 points. (Sure, he might lead Alabama to more, but he also might bolt for another job in a year or two.)

So, without further ado, here are the rankings. Every year we’ll go through and update the numbers based on what the program did that year (while throwing out the oldest year of data), so don’t fret if your team isn’t quite where you want them right now. Everyone has a chance to move up.

1. Ohio State (58)

Previous Rank: #2 (+1)
Some college football fans will take issue with the Buckeyes being No. 1 because of their “soft schedule.” But this is a team that has dominated its conference five of the past six years and has finished no worse than second in each of the past six seasons. They’ve also appeared in two title games (though they lost both) and nine straight BCS bowl games, winning the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl in the past two years. They’ve got an interesting season coming up though. Five of their players including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Dan Herron and receiver DeVier Posey will miss the first five games next year after being suspended. Can the Buckeyes stay unscathed until those players return?

2. Florida (51)

Previous Rank: #1 (-1)
If it weren’t for Urban Meyer leaving the program (and their lousy 2010 season), the Gators would probably still be ranked No. 1. They have three conference championships and two national championships in two years, but the lose of Meyer hurts big-time in these rankings. But don’t fret Florida fans, if Will Muschamp gets the program back on the right track then the Gators won’t be at No. 2 for long.

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