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College Football Week 5, NFL Week 4 Free Picks

Mississippi vs. Alabama, 6:30PM ET
Alabama doesn’t look as dominant as it has in year’s past, and bettors have taken notice. The spread in this game has been bet down from one key number of 17, to another key number in 14. The Rebels have fared well against the Tide, covering in all four of their last four meetings with ‘Bama in Tuscaloosa. They’re also 6-2 against the spread in their last eight meetings overall with the Tide, while the road team is 5-0 against the number in the last five meetings between these two teams. Ole Miss has a balanced offensive attack thanks to quarterbacks Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti, who is a running threat. The Rebels enter tonight’s game with plenty of confidence and should stay within two touchdowns of a Tide team that didn’t look sharp defensively two weeks ago versus A&M.
FREE PICK: OLE MISS +14

Wisconsin vs. Ohio State, 8:00PM ET
The Buckeyes have been flat-out dominant in their first three games and own the fourth-highest scoring offense in the country (52.5 points). But Braxton Miller is set to return tonight following a sprained left MCL injury suffered a few weeks ago. Rust might be a factor in the early going, which could give Wisconsin confidence for the rest of the game. The underdog is 10-3 against the spread in the last 13 meetings between these two teams and the Badgers are 4-0 against the number in their last four games overall. They’re also 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 conference games and have rushed for 387 yards or more in three of their four games. Look for Wisconsin to give Ohio State its first challenge of the season.
FREE PICK: WISCONSIN +6.5

Bengals vs. Browns, 1:00PM ET
The Bengals are coming off two emotional victories against Pittsburgh and Green Bay, and now has to travel to Cleveland and play a team in the Browns that they’re expected to beat. There’s always value in the home underdog, especially one in Cleveland that shocked bettors a week ago by beating Minnesota outright as a 6.5-point dog. The line in this game has been bet down from 5 to 3.5 despite the public siding with Cincinnati. The underdog is 10-1-1 against the spread in the last 12 meetings between these two teams and the Bengals are just 2-5-1 against the number in their last eight games versus the Browns. Look for a confident Cleveland team behind Brian Hoyer to keep this game within a field goal.
FREE PICK: BROWNS +3.5

Seahawks vs. Texans, 1:00PM ET
The Seahawks look every bit a Super Bowl contender in the early going. They suffered no letdown last Sunday when they thumped a brutal Jacksonville team a week after crushing division rival San Francisco on Sunday Night Football. But the Seahawks have never been a team that travels well and the Texans are licking their wounds after being embarrassed in Baltimore last week. Houston knows it can’t afford to fall behind in the AFC South, especially with Indianapolis playing Jacksonville this week. Look for the underdog Texans to win outright as a small home dog.
FREE PICK: TEXANS +1

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Russell Wilson can vault to top of Heisman lists tonight

Russell Wilson is not unknown to Heisman voters. Three (I, II, III) of the major “Heisman Watch” lists have him in, or around, the top five.

That’s probably a good spot for the Wisconsin quarterback, who has been great early on, but against suspect competition.

Through four games, Wilson — who spent his first three seasons at NC State before taking advantage of the NCAA’s graduate-level transfer rule — has completed 75.8% of his passes for 1,136 yards and 11 touchdowns, while throwing just one interception. He’s leading a Wisconsin offense that’s sixth in the nation scoring 48.5 points per game, and he’s done this while the Badgers have taken their foot off the gas pedal late in games thanks to huge leads.

Tonight, Wilson and Wisconsin play Nebraska in their Big Ten opener, and with a great performance, Wilson could find himself near, if not at the top of those lists. Nebraska is a big-time, storied program that has long been known for its defensive prowess. Even if the Huskers finish the season around where they are in scoring defense (46th at 22 points per game), putting up big numbers against them is going to cause voters’ eyes to light up.

It’s also the weekend’s showcase game, as it will be on ABC at 8 p.m. (EST). If Alabama does to Florida what I’m expecting it to, most of the country’s eyes will be on this game and this game alone. That’s the perfect storm for Wilson’s Heisman campaign. Of course it could also work against him. If Wilson has a bad game in a loss, it will be remembered by voters into December. If his running back Montee Ball goes nuts — which he is certainly capable of — voters might question the importance Wilson to the Badgers.

That’s not going to happen, though. Expect Wilson to be let loose, both through the air and with his feet, and expect to wake up Sunday hearing his name mentioned with “Heisman frontrunner” attached to it.

Buckeyes avenge loss, blow out Badgers 93-65

Ohio State guard Jon Diebler (33) shoots a 3-pointer over Josh Gasser (21) during the second half of their NCAA basketball game in Columbus, Ohio March 6, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

This game was closer than the final score would indicate, but it was never very close…if that makes sense. The Buckeyes built a lead behind some unbelievable three-point shooting — 14-of-15…yes, you read that right — and every time the Badgers were able to cut the lead to 11 or 12 points, Jon Diebler (7-of-8 from 3PT), William Buford (3-for-3) or David Lighty (2-for-2) would hit a three and push the lead back to 14 or 15 points. The Buckeyes’ three-point shooting was so amazing that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they made a deal with the devil before tip-off.

Diebler, who hit 10-of-12 three-pointers against Penn State on Tuesday, has now hit 17 of his last 20 threes (85%) over the last two games. That’s just incredible.

The Buckeyes won the Big Ten regular season title when Purdue lost to Iowa on Saturday and will be the #1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which starts on Thursday. Wisconsin enters the tourney as the #3 seed.

OSU’s Sullinger spit on by UW fan?

Wisconsin Badgers’ Mike Bruesewitz reacts after making a basket against Ohio State Buckeyes late in the second half of their NCAA basketball game in Madison, Wisconsin February 12, 2011. Wisconsin went on to beat undefeated Ohio State 71-67. REUTERS/Darren Hauck (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Freshman sensation Jared Sullinger says (via Twitter, of course) that he was spit on, in the face, by Wisconsin fans before and after the game.

To be spit on is just nasty. On top of that in my Face. Before and after the game. Smh. I just kept walking. More fuel to the fire.

For those of us unfamiliar with texting/tweeting acronyms, “SMH” stands for “shake my head.”

As a former Wisconsinite, I’m a little surprised by this news, but Sullinger has no reason to lie about being spit on. Whoever did this should be ashamed of themselves. Cheer all you want. Root for your team all you want. Boo all you want. Heckle all you want. But don’t spit on anyone.

The Badgers visit Columbus on March 6.

#14 Wisconsin knocks off #1 Ohio State

Wisconsin Badgers’ Mike Bruesewitz (C) celebrates as students rushed the court after they beat undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes in their NCAA basketball game in Madison, Wisconsin, February 12, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Things were looking awfully grim for the Badgers when they were trailing by 15 points with 13:16 to play in the second half. But over the next three-and-a-half minutes, Wisconsin went on a 15-0 run to tie the game at 47-47 with 9:49 to play. The run featured three three-pointers, two by Jordan Taylor and one by Josh Gasser (which was assisted by Taylor).

Mike Bruesewitz (a.k.a. “Carrot Top,” per Dick Vitale) was big off the bench, scoring 10 points (two threes, a putback and two free throws) over the final 11 minutes of the game. His biggest shot came with 0:31 remaining and the Badgers nursing a two-point lead. He caught the ball at the top of the key, shot faked, then drained the open three to give Wisconsin a five-point lead.

Wisconsin’s shooting down the stretch was incredible. They went 7-for-11 from three-point range and 8-of-11 from the free throw line in the final 12 minutes.

Taylor posted 27 points and seven assists, and went 5-of-8 from long range. Jon Leuer and Bruesewitz each added 12 points for Wisconsin. William Buford led the Buckeyes with 21 points, while Jared Sullinger added 19 points and 12 rebounds.

OSU head coach Thad Motta is now 0-6 at the Kohl Center in his career. With the win, the Badgers stay undefeated at home. Coincidentally, it was also Wisconsin that knocked off the top-ranked Ohio State football team late last year.

Do I smell a rivalry brewing? Wisconsin is certainly in a better position than Michigan in both basketball and football to battle Ohio State for supremacy in the Big Ten/Eleven/Twelve.

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