College Football Selections
Saturday, September 19th
Remember to go to joegavazzisports.com to read the Guest Handicappers Selections for this week as well as their Biographies.
Next Transmission Monday, Sept 21st 2:00 PM ET
#109 3% UCF (-7-) 3:30 PM ET ABC
Let me start by telling you that at the close of last year 10-3 SU UCF would have been favored by 18 points over 3-9 SU Georgia Tech. Granted, the GUB edge for Tech was a most promising performance by Frosh QB Simms who passed for 277 yards against FSU in their 16-13 upset (as +12) of the Noles. That included forcing 3 TOs. For our purposes however, that sets up a classic “Blind Hog” play. The concept is simple. “Play against any CFB home dog who comes off a double digit victory as road dog (blind hog finding an acorn)”. The letdown is inevitable, as is line value, and the fact the superior road team is now on high alert. Note that UCF, though playing their opener, will need much motivation. 76% of their lettermen return with 16 starters, 8 on each side of the ball, that includes LYs QB Gabrielle who had a 29/7 ratio LY. They also return Top 3 RBs and their entire secondary. A nationally televised game against an ACC opponent on ABC TV will certainly have the Golden Knights looking for style points. Note that GA Tech was 0-3 ATS/win LY.
#114 4% Duke (-5-) Noon PM ET ES3
New BC Hafley (former Ohio State Assistant) and Notre Dame transfer QB Jurkovec will have to prove it before they get our action. That’s exactly what Duke’s Clemson transfer QB Brice did in the Blue Devils 27-13 loss at Notre Dame last week, including 246 yards of offense by half time. Note that the Blue Devils trailed only 13-17 in the 4th quarter. After that game, Duke HC Cutcliffe gushed “we’ve got a quarterback that will make a lot of plays for us. I think we’ve got an exciting time in front of us. I really do.” Good enough for us.
#116 3% Louisville (-2-) 7:30 PM ET
Louisville is the “Revenge Game of the Week”. Expect close to 20,000 fans in the stands for this Saturday night prime time game. They will be rooting for their Cardinals to avenge a 52-27 loss last year at Miami. The Canes defense looked tough in their opening day 31-14 win and cover against CUSA member, UAB. Houston transfer QB King provided balance with his legs and speed. There were clearly however, some kinks to be worked out of the new “spread offense” installed by OC Lashlee. It resulted in just a 10-24 performance through the air for QB King. Meanwhile, behind 343 PY from QB Cunningham last week (knocked out of Miami game LY), the Cards cruised to a 35-21 home win and cover vs. WKY. That boosted the recent record to Cards mentor HC Satterfield to 17-8 ATS going back to his days at APP State. Cards (from last year) get their revenge!
#121 3% App State (-4-) 3:30 PM ET CBSN
Don’t get too excited about the 59-0 Marshall win over E. KY two weeks ago. The Colonels got nothin’. To their credit, the Herd does return 9 offensive starters including an OL with 126 starts. BUT THEY HAD 0 SPRING PRACTICES making this in effect their first real “fire”. App State with their 3rd HC in 3 years (HC Clark a long time App State Assistant), was same ol’, same ol’ Mountaineers. The 35-20 win, no cover, vs. Charlotte was not reflected in the stats. App State “200 Clubbed” (as usual) the Niners with a 308-146 overland edge. The Niners stayed in the game with the benefit of 3 TOs and 97 yard KO return. With 11 spring practices under their belt, 8 offensive returning starters led by QB Thomas, and 115 OL starts, expect this team of 79% returning lettermen to make a statement against the biggest name non-con team on their schedule. Great value here based on the fact that App State would have been a double digit favorite at the close of last season.
#124 3% WESTERN KY (-14) Noon ET ESPNU
In 1775, great historian Patrick Henry said “Give me liberty, or give me death”. In today’s matchup, Henry was undoubtedly referring to the latter, as the Flames figure to quickly extinguish in their season opener. Only 9 starters return in the 2nd season under HC Freeze. Gone is QB “Buckshot”, his top wide receiver, and top 3 tacklers from a defense that allowed 28 PPG LY. Only untried Auburn transfer QB Willis (red shirted last year, making his first start on the road) could save the day. The WKY has a GUB in a 21-35 loss at L’Ville. They will enjoy stepping down in class. Buoying their offensive hopes are Maryland transfer QB Pigrome, an OL with 102 career starts, and 9 returning starters and a defense that allowed 20 PPG LY. 2nd year HC Helton had a first year well beyond expectations with a 9-4 SU, 9-3 ATS record. Willing to lay the extra TD (from LYs closing line). Note the Tops were 3-1 ATS/loss LY.
#133 4% Navy (+7) Noon ABC
If you think there are plenty of reasons to fade Navy after their 55-3 wipe out at the hands of BYU, consider the plight of Tulane. Ravaged this week by the remnants of Hurricane Sally, the Green Wave must also deal with the potential letdown following their 27-24 victory at USA last week. After trailing 6-24, the Wave rallied for 3 scores in a 27-24 comeback victory. Despite success overland vs. the inferior front of USA, note that Tulane will miss best boy RB Dauphine. This series has been a tight one with all 4 recent AAC games decided by 7 or less points. Though 3-1 ATS in the series, Tulane is 1-3 SU and the homer 0-5 ATS in the series. Following the BYU debacle, Navy HC Niumatalolo said “1000% my fault. It was the worst game ever by Navy”. With QB Olsen entering the transfer portal, the fortunes remain in the hands of QB Morris. I expect a huge bounce back by the Middies who are 7-3 ATS/loss L2Y and have a storied history in this role where they are 20-12 ATS as underdog. After being outrushed 301-119 by BYU, look for the Middies to return more to the form that saw them ramble for 385 RY in last year’s game, a 41-38 Navy victory. Due to the dichotomous performance of these teams in Game #1, we are grabbing 10 points of value from where this line would have been at the close of last season as our Dog of the Day. Be there!
#143 4% Houston (+4-) Noon ET Fox TV
Not only does Houston return 19 starters, but has some transfers and Jucos which could surprise. In short, after 2nd year HC Holgorsen recorded a 4-8 SU maiden voyage, expect much better from a team with 82% returning lettermen including QB Tune and his Top 5 receivers. No such luck for Baylor’s new HC Aranda (former DC at LSU, Wisc.) whose team had no spring practices, returns only 9 starters, including just 2 on the defensive side of the ball. Technicians will note the record of 11-2 ATS for Houston as road dog and 3-8 ATS for Baylor in the home chalk role (though few of these results were with current coaches). New coaches (Aranda) in their first game of the season are 2-8 ATS to date. Teams with 5 more spring practices than their opponent in Game #1 are 6-2 ATS to date. Wrong team favored?
Sunday, September 20th
#266 3% PITTSBURGH (-7) 1:00 PM ET
Both teams off Monday Nighters, with Denver at the disadvantage of traveling 2 time zones east for an early start. Broncos allowed the Titans to run 34 times for 130 yards. Meanwhile, their own attack could total just 323 yards. That 14 point offensive output could well match their efforts in this game against a Top 5 Steelers defense who allowed just 291 TY to a decent NYG attack while holding the GMen to 29/1.5 overland. Of greater importance was the resurgence of the Steeler offense who went barefoot last season without Ben. In his return to leading the attack, Ben had a 3/0 ratio bolstered by a ground game that went for 30/141/4.7. Broncos, as they will all season, will again miss the services of DL Miller to pressure Ben.
#271 4% Buffalo (-5-) 1:00 PM ET
Dolphins were badly outrushed by New England last week 217-87 in their 21-11 opening day loss at Foxboro. QB Fitz threw 3 picks. Expect the bounce back? I think not! The Fish are 1-10 ATS the week after the Patriots. After last year’s 10 win season, the Bills are projected to have a winning year once again. The defense looked brilliant in their 27-17 win against a Jets team who figures to be on the same level as these Dolphins. They allowed just 254 total yards including 52/3.5 overland. QB Allen took another step forward passing for 312 yards. Let’s ride the momentum in Game #2 as Buffalo wins over Miami of 17 and 10 points from last year figure to be repeated.
#273 5% Minnesota (+3) 1:00 PM ET
“Ole man Rivers” played true to form in Week #1 throwing a pair of picks in the Colts 20-27 loss to J’Ville, a team projected to have the fewest wins in the league. That makes it 22 INT in the last 17 games for Rivers who is clearly past his expiration date. Loss of RB Mack is an additional blow to the offense. Vikings defense will be steamed after allowing QB Rodgers to go off on them for 364 PY in a 43-34 Green Bay victory. They will face no such challenges today. On the bright side for the Vikings, they did rush for 134/6.1 with QB Cousins completing 76% of his passes. Note the ideal role for Vikings HC Zimmer who is 19-3 ATS following a loss when now facing a non-division opponent. WTF (wrong team favored)!
#278 3% CHICAGO (-5) 1:00 PM ET
Good news and bad news. First the good news. I passed on the Cleveland side last night (a loser when the Bengals got a backdoor score with 43 seconds remaining, despite the fact that Cleveland rushed for 138 yards in Week #1 and the Bengals allowed 155 RY. That scenario played out Thursday night WHEN THE BROWNS OUTRUSHED THE BENGALS 215-68. The bad news, we lost the Total (do we get ½ credit because EACH TEAM SCORED UNDER 44? I don’t think so!) We will follow that same line of thinking for this winner with the Bears, with a couple of extra edges. In last week’s thrilling 27-23 come-from-behind victory (trailed by 17 in the 4th), the Bears ran for 149/5.3 against the Lions. On MNF, the Giants were totally outplayed on the line of scrimmage by the Steelers who rushed 30/141/4.7 to 20/29/1.5. To review why those numbers are so critical, go to “Keep on Trackin’” at joegavazzisports.com to see why, should that play out again today, Chicago has a 75% to 85% chance to beat the spread. Further edges accrue from the Giants traveling on the short week and from Bears QB Trubisky gaining some much needed confidence from that come-back win.
#282 3% ARIZONA (-6-) 4:05 PM ET
A barefoot Washington team, expected to win just 5 games this season, pulled off a Week #1 miracle. Led by HC Rivera, who received a half time cancer treatment, and first year starter QB Haskins, Wash could have easily packed their bags when trailing 17-0 to a Philly team who had beaten them 6 straight times. Motivated by Haskins half time speech, Wash rallied for a 27-17 victory despite totaling just 239 yards. A +3 net TO margin (translates to 91% ATS success), read “Keep on Trackin’”, aided the cause as did 8 sacks of QB Wentz against an underachieving Philly OL. That clearly won’t happen against Arizona’s more mobile QB Murray who led the Cardinals to a 24-20 upset of Super Bowl loser San Francisco. The Cards ran it 36 times for 130 yards. Meanwhile, newly acquired WR Hopkins (from Houston) made the Texans look even sillier than they were for trading him, when he exploded for 14 receptions. With each team due for a potential letdown, must back the far more explosive offense of Arizona against a Washington team forced to travel (remember that will be no picnic this year) across the nation.
#287 4% New England (+4) 8:20 PM ET NBC TV
My Top Play on the Patriots cashed easily last week as they outrushed Miami 217-87 while holding the Fish to just 269 yards. HC Belichick is ecstatic with his new toy (read QB Newton) who has teamed with OC McDaniels to install the “zone-read” to the offensive playbook. Seattle QB Wilson was awesome in dinking and dunking his way to 19/20 C in the Seahawks 38 point offensive explosion vs. Atlanta. Note however, they gave up 506 total yards to the Falcons in that 13 point victory. Technicians will note that HC Carroll is 19-31 ATS off a double digit win while Belichick is 47-23 ATS as dog, including 12-3 ATS in the last decade.
#268 4% OVER 53- Dallas 1:00 PM ET