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Huge Spreads: When to Lay the Wood

Philadelphia, PA (My Sportsbook) - There were 20 teams last Saturday favored by two touchdowns or more, with eight giving 20 points or more. Five of the 20 clubs lost outright, including Iowa, which was favored by 20 1/2.

Only six teams (30%) covered the huge spreads. Suffice to say, chalk players did not have a good day. Alabama, Clemson, Kent State, Washington State and the aforementioned Hawkeyes all lost, despite being favored by a combined 86 points.

The squads that won yet failed to cover were Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Central Michigan, Auburn, Florida, TCU, California and Wyoming. So how easy is it to make money when laying so many points?

Gamblers must pick their spots, as there were a few useable games to fatten the wallet. Vanderbilt was as close to a lock as a team could get. Florida was stuck in a Commodore Sandwich after the annual battle with Georgia the week before and the look-ahead game to Steve Spurrier and South Carolina the following week.

The Gators have not been scoring points like many thought they would this season in Urban Meyers second year as head coach. They are averaging only 23 ppg in SEC play, which meant the defense would have had to hold Vandy to a touchdown or less, which was not going to happen.

Another game that was ripe for the picking was Arkansas State at Auburn. The Tigers have been a major disappointment this season and are another team struggling to score points. They averaged 33 ppg in conference play last year and opened 06 strong vs. Mississippi State, popping in 34. However, they have averaged a measly 18 ppg in their last five SEC games.

Coach Tommy Tubervilles club had failed to cover its last two nonconference matchups with Buffalo and Tulane, two games in which the Tigers were heavy favorites. This past Saturday, they once again couldn't score enough to cover the spread, defeating the Indians, 27-0. One could say that this was a game that Auburn was looking past, with Georgia and Alabama coming up the next two weeks. However, weekly followers of the Tigers know they are not a great football team.


Ohio State and Michigan are two teams just playing out the string until the November 18 matchup in Columbus. Both clubs failed against the spread this past week: The Wolverines stumbled home to a 34-26 win over Ball State, while the Buckeyes held off Illinois.

The Michigan debacle could have been expected, as the Maize and Blue were 0-3 ATS when favored by three touchdowns or more prior to the game. The Ohio State contest was harder to come up with since the Buckeyes had stormed through their last 16 games, covering all but one.

The question for these two teams is: How will they come out this Saturday? Bettors must learn from previous weeks, and both of these clubs have one hurdle left before the most important game of the year. Michigan heads to Bloomington for a meeting with Indiana, while Ohio State stays on the road against Northwestern.

The Hoosiers came out flat on the road at Minnesota, trailing 35-0 before they even knew what hit them. Nevertheless, they have their most wins (5) in a season since 1994 and have won and covered their last two home games, versus Iowa and Michigan State. One other note: The Wolverines are 6-2 ATS in the last eight years before playing Ohio State.

Northwestern has covered three straight, including its upset win at Iowa last week. This will be the Wildcats' first home game since the incredible loss to Michigan State a few weeks back, and they have fared well vs. Ohio State, having covered three of the last four meetings. Also, the Buckeyes are 2-7-1 ATS in the last 10 years prior to facing Michigan.


As most of my readers know, I am not a trend guy. Matchups and emotion play a much larger role in my selections. Cincinnati is at West Virginia this week, and this is a classic case of an up-and-coming team taking on a squad coming off a huge game the week before with a rivalry game the following week.

The Mountaineers faltered in a big spot against Louisville, losing by 10 last Thursday. They fumbled the ball six times and certainly did not look like a top five team. WVU travels to Pittsburgh for the 99th meeting of the Backyard Brawl on Thursday, November 16.

Cincinnati will not be intimidated by West Virginia, as Mark Dantonios club has already squared off against Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Louisville, all on the road. The Bearcats actually led the Hokies by one point heading into the fourth quarter and were outgained by only 43 yards in the contest. Louisville only led Cincinnati by three points at the half, and the Bearcats held their own vs. Ohio State earlier in the year, trailing the Buckeyes by a 20-7 score after three quarters.

Defense has been the story for Cincinnati, as the Cats have given up an average of 14 points per game in their last six, and that includes the matchups with V-Tech and Louisville. They also are coming off a bye and have had extra time to prepare for West Virginia. There is also the revenge factor working, as the Mountaineers shut them out last year at home, 38-0.

Take Cincinnati plus the points.

Temple and Penn State hook up in Happy Valley for the first time since the 2003 opener, when the Nittany Lions defeated the Owls, 23-10, a game in which the Lions were favored by 23 points. Temple head coach Al Golden played under Joe Paterno when he was at Penn State, so its very doubtful JoPa and the Lions will run it up on the Owls.

Temple actually has been playing better ball as the season has progressed, having covered five of its last six games while scoring over 20 points in each of its last three games. Penn States offense is nothing to write home about, so even if Paterno and the Lions wanted to run up the score, they might not be able to do so.

The most points they have scored against a Division 1-A opponent this season were 34 against Akron. They are averaging 19 ppg vs. 1-A teams. Its also fair to say that the conference is in a down year, as five of the 11 teams have an overall record of .500 or lower and only three teams are better than 6-4.

Go with Temple plus the points.

Perhaps the top game of the weekend pits Steve Spurrier against his former team. South Carolina travels to Florida in what will be a circus atmosphere in Gainesville. The Gators, as mentioned earlier, are having problems on offense and actually have been outgained in two of their last three contests, including a 418-370 deficit to Vanderbilt of all teams.

Florida, which has outscored its SEC opponents by an average score of 23-16, is 1-6 ATS in conference play but is a double-digit favorite once again! South Carolina is a lot better than Vanderbilt, and theres no doubt that Spurrier will have his team ready. The Gamecocks are 3-0 SU and ATS on the road and have dropped three home games to Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas by seven, seven and six points respectively.

Take South Carolina plus the points.

Other big plays include Maryland, Iowa, Alabama, NC State, San Jose State and Arizona.


The Buckeyes' seven-point win brought them back to the pack a bit, but they are still ranked number one. Here are this weeks numbers:

1) Ohio State, 107; 2) LSU, 105; 2) Texas, 105; 4) California, 103; 5) Louisville, 101.5; 6) USC, 99.5; 6) West Virginia, 99.5; 8) Oklahoma, 99; 8) Clemson, 99; 10) Florida, 98; 10) Virginia Tech, 98

Posted by MySportsbook November 7, 2006, at 03:25 PM ET
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