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Weekend football preview - 11-14-08

Nov 14, 2008 9:28 PM

by GT Staff |

Weekend Football Preview

NCAA College Football

Cincinnati -4 at Louisville

Louisville literally gave the game away last week to Pittsburgh, which benefited from five turnovers, including two fumble recoveries, a 3-yard fumble return for a TD and an 18-yard interception return for a score. Although Cincinnati beat West Virginia, they were actually out-gained by the Mountaineers and also benefited from opponents’ miscues. Louisville needs the game for bowl eligibility and they’ve won five in a row in this rivalry game for the Keg of Nails trophy. They’ve also won nine of the last 10 and should get the outright upset here. LOUISVILLE.


Minnesota at Wisconsin -13½

Speaking of rivalries, this one is the nation’s longest running, dating back 117 years. Even though Minny owns the long-term series edge, Wisconsin has won 11 of the last 13 meetings, including the last four by an average 19 points/game. The Badgers seem to have recovered from their mid-season, four-game slide, and need to win out to get bowl eligibility. Their power running game is once again in full gear (722 yards rushing in their last two games), which isn’t good news for Minnesota, which has had trouble stopping power running teams. Give the nod to Wisconsin in the annual Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Ax. WISCONSIN.


Vanderbilt at Kentucky -4

Kentucky is off a heart-breaking loss to Georgia, 42-38. The Wildcasts, which rushed fo 226 yards in the game, overcame an early 14-0 deficit to take the lead 38-35, which they held through most of the fourth quarter, only to have Georgia hit a big pass play that set up a 2-yard TD run. This game is crucial for Kentucky in order to become bowl eligible. Kentucky has won four straight against Vandy and should prevail in what could be a low-scoring defensive battle. VANDERBILT.


Utah State at Louisiana Tech -14 ½

Louisiana Tech has won and covered the last three meetings and with Utah State’s offense and defense both ranked in the bottom 10 percent of all Division 1A schools, they should be able to win this by a margin. The Bulldogs enter the contest off consecutive wins over Fresno State and San Jose State, both of which are superior to Utah State. LOUISIANA TECH.


Texas -13½ at Kansas

Texas should be back on track after suffering three straight ATS losses after starting the season with a perfect record. Coach Mack Brown understands the importance of running up the score in order to impress the pollsters (and their computers!), and Kansas has proved unable to stop high-powered offenses (they couldn’t even stop Iowa State!). Because the Longhorns are still alive in the Big 12 and national title hunts, they play hard and win a big shootout here. TEXAS.


UCLA -7 at Washington

Last week UCLA hung with Oregon State before self destructing in the second half. Even though Washington is winless this season, the Bruins can’t be trusted in laying points on the road. They are a meager 1-8 ATS as a road favorite versus Pac 10 foes. It’s dicey backing an 0-9 team, but the Huskies have shown life at times this season, and there could be an extra incentive with former Washington Coach Rick Neuheisel now at the helm of UCLA. Give the Huskies a chance to finally notch their first win of the year. WASHINGTON.


Boston College at Florida State -6½

Boston College is coming off a big 17-0 win over Notre Dame, even though they were out-gained in the contest. In ACC play, BC already has three losses so their title hopes are virtually out of reach. Florida State had a dominating win over Clemson, 41-27, which could have been worse, save for Seminole miscues. Last year, Florida State knocked off Boston College when the Eagles were unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in the country with Matt Ryan at quarterback, the same Matt Ryan leading the Atlanta Falcons to a stellar season. The Seminoles are vastly improved over last year’s squad and should be able to prevail against a somewhat rebuilding BC group. Note that FSU’s only home loss this season came in September against Wake Forest (12-3), when they were missing several key starters due to suspensions. In that game they turned it over seven times. Florida State won’t let this one get away and should win by a margin. FLORIDA STATE.


Also recommended:

Penn State -36 over Indiana

Connecticut -10 over Syracuse

Air Force +5 over BYU

Florida -21 over South Carolina

Rutgers +7 ½ over South Florida

SMU +10 over UTEP

Marshall -7 ½ over Central Florida


NFL Football

Ravens +6½ at Giants (42)

These are both "play on" teams as evidenced by their combined 14-4 record and with each team sporting a 7-2 ATS mark. With both teams playing at such a high level, the preference is to take the points with a defensively strong underdog, especially as the line approaches a full touchdown. RAVENS.


Texans +9 at Colts (49)

Indianapolis rallied for a 31-27 win in the first meeting last month. Houston backup QB Sage Rosenfels will again start and his miscues in the first meeting enabled the Colts to rally. Indy is 12-1 all time straight up against the Texans and now playing with a sense of urgency. COLTS.


Titans -3 at Jaguars (39)

Tennessee is the better football team based on performance while Jacksonville may be the more talented team based on potential. Tennessee’s 9-0 streak began with a 17-10 home win over the Jags to start the season. The Jags make for an attractive home underdog in this spot. JAGUARS.


Bears +5½ at Packers

QB Kyle Orton’s status was still uncertain early in the week. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers continues to improve and the Packers catch the Bears in a poor scheduling spot. Chicago starts a three-game road trip after not playing away from home in more than a month. PACKERS.


Eagles -9½ at Bengals (43)

Philly should find this opponent more to their liking than the Giants. Especially since Bengals’ QB Carson Palmer will again be sidelines and lightly tested Ryan Fitzpatrick will start. Cincy is off a bye but there is little reason to expect much improvement from the league’s worst offense. EAGLES.


Saints -5 at Chiefs (48)

KC coach Herman Edwards’ decision to go for 2 last week in San Diego rather than force OT was due to his concern over much of his defense being banged up. This is a good spot for the more talented Saints whose five losses have all been to teams with winning records. SAINTS.


Lions +14 at Panthers (39½)

Detroit’s QB situation is a mess with recently signed Daunte Culpepper and inexperienced Drew Stanton both seeing action last week against Jacksonville. Carolina is unbeaten in five home games, but might take Detroit for granted with a divisional game at Atlanta up next. LIONS.


Vikings +3½ at Bucs (39½)

Tampa is rested from the bye and presents more of a defensive challenge to Minnesota than did Green Bay. Tampa has won the last three meetings with the Vikings, each by double digits, although the teams have not met since 2005. Still, Tampa is playing the better football and is 4-0 at home. BUCS.


Rams +4 at 49ers (44)

The Rams have lost six times by at least 17 points this season! The Niners have generally fared better against common foes both in and out of division. Frisco is favored for the first time in the last dozen games against the Rams. Neither offense can be counted upon to sustain drives without mistakes. UNDER.


Cardinals -3 at Seahawks (46)

Arizona is making it a runaway in the weak NFC West. Seattle has been plagued by injuries all season and this would normally be a good spot, having been favored 10 straight times against the Cards. Seattle has been strong at home over the years and has won four straight on this field over the Cards. SEAHAWKS.


Cowboys -1½ at Redskins (45)

Both teams are off byes and losses in their last games. Washington has a 3-1 divisional record that includes a 26-24 road loss at Dallas. The Cowboys have lost 3 of 4 as QB Tony Romo has been sidelined but is expected back. Getting the better defense as a home underdog is the attractive option. REDSKINS.


Browns +5 at Bills

The Monday night matchup on ESPN. Buffalo’s 4-0 start is a distant memory with losses in 4 of its last 5. Cleveland is off of a pair of games in which they blew late double digit leads, largely due to defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter. The Bills are fundamentally better and enjoy an edge on special teams. BILLS.

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