Sports Illustrated curse hooks Horns?

Oct 18, 2008 8:41 PM

by Mark Mayer |

It’s still roughly two weeks to Halloween, but Texas backers have to be a bit scared seeing their Longhorns on this week’s cover. For those of us who simply deal with facts, the Longhorns are down to a 4½-point favorite in Austin from an opening number of 7. The Missouri-Texas game will be shown on ABC nationally at 5 p.m. PT.

Entering the weekend, underdogs swept the board going 3-0. TCU was an easy winner over BYU, while both Hawaii and NC State lost but covered as double-digit underdogs. On today’s slate, there are 20 games with favorites giving at least 10 points. The highest spread on the board is Southern Cal spotting an amazing 43 points on the road to Washington State. Remember last year USC was a 40-point favorite at home to Stanford and lost outright. Just a reminder, not a prediction.

For the season, underdogs are 165-153-9 against the spread – a 21-win turnaround from early September when favorites were up 9. Other marquee matchups today include Virginia Tech as a 3-point underdog at Boston College, Oklahoma as a 20-point favorite against Kansas, No. 2 ranked Alabama as a 12-point home favorite against Ole Miss, Ohio State as a 3½-point chalk at Michigan State, No. 3 Penn State as a whopping 24½-point favorite over Michigan, Pac-10 leader California as a 2-point favorite at Arizona and defending national champ LSU as a 2-point road chalk at South Carolina.

The most active line moves involve Western Michigan-Central Michigan, Stanford-UCLA and Florida Atlantic-Western Kentucky. Central Michigan opened a 3½-point favorite, went to pick’em and now a 2-point underdog. Stanford is currently a 2-point favorite after opening as +3. Florida Atlantic is now a 2½-point favorite after the game opened at pick’em and went to Western Kentucky -1.

Locally, UNLV is down to a 3½-point home underdog against Air Force in Mountain West play. The visiting Falcons opened as a 5½-point favorite. The Rebels are 3-3 against the number this season. The game will be televised live on the Mountain (MTN) at 7 p.m.