GamingToday’s college and pro football preview 11-26-2008

Nov 26, 2008 10:53 PM

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Friday, Nov. 28

Mississippi State at Mississippi -13 ½

Houston Nutt has done a marvelous job in his first season at Mississippi, which includes a win over Florida, probably the top team in the country. In this Egg Bowl rivalry, the Rebels have won four of the last six, although they lost last year to Mississippi State, 17-14, after leading 14-0 into the fourth quarter. Don’t expect any heroics this time as the Bulldogs don’t have the offensive firepower – they’re averaging only 13 points/game in SEC play. Mississippi -13½.

 

Akron at Temple -2 ½

Temple has a chance to notch five wins for the season, something they haven’t accomplished since 1990! Last year, the Owls overcame a 20-3 fourth quarter deficit with 21 straight points to beat Akron, 24-20. This one shapes as a high-scoring shootout as the defenses seem to have packed it in for the season. But playing at home should give Temple the edge in this high-scoring affair. Temple -2 ½

 

Central Michigan -10 at Eastern Michigan

Central Michigan saw its MAC title hopes dissolve with last week’s loss to Ball State, so they may be in bit of a funk. No question, the Chippewas are the better team, but Eastern Michigan upset Central last year (48-45) and three of the last four meetings have gone to overtime, with all four decided by a touchdown or less. Central Michigan needs a win for a decent bowl bid, but this is Eastern Michigan’s bowl and they’ll play hard for 60 minutes. Eastern Michigan +10.

 

LSU -4 ½ at Arkansas

LSU was "undressed" by Mississippi last week, which shouldn’t have been a shock to anyone: the Tigers are rebuilding and have lacked solid quarterback play all season. Conversely, Arkansas has shown improvement over the course of the season under new coach Bobby Petrino, despite last week’s come-from-ahead loss to Mississippi State. LSU is a dismal 3-15-1 ATS in its last 19 regular season games and this one looks like another for the "L" column. Arkansas +4½

 

Colorado at Nebraska -17

The Cornhuskers were humiliated in Boulder last year, 65-51, which knocked them out of a bowl bid for only the second time in 39 years, and resulted in the firing of Bill Callahan the next day. Nebraska has a better defense this year and their high-octane attack should score early and often against Colorado, which is 0-4 (SU and ATS) on the road this season, including a 58-0 drubbing at Missouri. Nebraska gets its revenge, big time. Nebraska -17.

 

UCLA at Arizona State -10

It’s been a dismal season for Bruin coach Rick Neuheisel in his first year, starting with losing both quarterbacks before the first snap of the first game. Nonetheless, UCLA has been competitive at times, mostly the result of their solid defense. Arizona State hasn’t been impressive with a single PAC 10 win over Stanford, outside of wins over both Washington schools, which everybody beats. With an outside shot at becoming bowl eligible (a win here and next week vs. USC … good luck!), the Bruins will be in this one with a chance at pulling the outright upset. UCLA +10.

 

Saturday, Nov. 29

 

Miami -1 ½ at North Carolina State

Miami had its five-game win streak snapped at Georgia Tech last week, 41-23, while NC State was derailing North Carolina, 41-10. That win wasn’t too surprising as the Wolfpack was coming off back-to-back wins (Duke and Wake Forest) for the first time all season. NC State won’t be content with the victory, however, as a win here makes them bowl eligible. They’ll play hard and with the improved play of quarterback Russell Wilson, should upend Miami for the mild upset. NC State +1½.

 

Virginia at Virginia Tech -8

Despite an off year for Virginia Tech (four losses), the Hokies are in a position to advance to the ACC title game with a win, thanks to North Carolina’s misstep last week. They’ve owned this series vs. Virginia with four straight wins and eight of the last nine – all decided by at least 12 points. Virginia was impressive mid-season with big wins over Maryland, North Carolina and Georgia Tech, but their offense has stumbled in three straight losses. That doesn’t bode well against the Hokie defense. Virginia Tech -8.

 

Kansas at Missouri -14 ½

Even though Missouri has the Big 12 North Division locked up, this is a big enough rivalry to get their full attention. The series began in 1891, and the winner in 12 of the last 15 contests have done so by double digits. Missouri has the firepower to extend a win, and Kansas’s defense has been vulnerable at times this season (they’ve allowed an average of 42 points the last six games). This one might be close for awhile, but Mizzou should pull away with a comfortable win. Missouri -14½.

 

Oklahoma -7 at Oklahoma State

Oklahoma has dominated this series with five straight wins and seven of the last 10. However, their last loss came in Stillwater, where the last two were decided by a total of 9 points. Nonetheless, Oklahoma has been on a mission since losing to Texas on Oct. 11 – they’ve won five straight by an average score of 59-28. Despite the Cowboys recent home successes, this one shapes up as a similar outcome. Can anyone say Florida vs. Oklahoma in the BCS title game? Oklahoma -7.

 

Georgia Tech at Georgia -8 ½

This is Georgia Tech’s best shot at snapping a 7-game losing streak to the Bulldogs. New head coach Paul Johnson has instilled a winning attitude with the Yellow Jackets, culminating with last week’s shellacking of Miami-Florida. Moreover, this isn’t the same Georgia team that was knocking off SEC heavyweights last year, and they’ve been miserable as a favorite as well (2-6 ATS). Give the nod to Tech here with a chance to steal one in the Dome. Georgia Tech +8 ½.

 

Auburn at Alabama -14

The "Iron Bowl" has been dominated by Auburn in recent years as they’ve won six straight over the Crimson Tide. That should change this year as Alabama has the conferences best defense, orchestrated by master head coach Nick Saban. Auburn’s already anemic on offense (only 13 points/game in SEC play), and they’ll have trouble moving chains against stifling ‘Bama stop unit. The Tide’s offense won’t erupt the way Florida does, but steady QB John Parker Wilson (don’t you hate that name?) is reliable and plays mistake free. Alabama gets payback here and the chance to face the aforementioned Florida in the SEC title game (thanks a lot!) Alabama -14.

 

Oregon at Oregon State -3 ½

Ordinarily, you’d have to look at the home team Beavers in this spot, but injuries to key starters (quarterback Moevao and running back Quizz Rodgers) may change the complexion of the game (check status). Moreover, Oregon State has won five straight at home in the "Civil War" rivalry, and the Oregon defense has been more porous than expected this season. With a Rose Bowl trip on the line (the first since Tommy Prothro took them in 1964!), Oregon State will pull out all the stops here, even if their key offensive players are hurt. Give the nod to Oregon State in this hard-fought rivalry. Oregon State -3 ½.

 

NFL FOOTBALL

 

Sunday, November 30

 

Broncos +8 at Jets (47½)

The Jets have a potent offense that should exploit the Broncos’ vulnerable defense. Denver should also be able to put up points, making this a potential shootout. Off an embarrassing home loss to Oakland, the Broncos should play well, but they’re up against it here, even though Denver has won their last two road games straight up as underdogs. Jets.

 

49ers +7 at Bills (42½)

Buffalo found its offense in blasting Kansas City 54-31, ending a 4 game losing streak. The ground game is back after rushing for 186 and 171 yards the past two weeks. The Niners are another West Coast team heading east and have lost all three non divisional road games by double digits. Bills.

 

Saints +4½ at Bucs (NT)

Tampa Bay has won three straight and 5-of-6 despite a drop off in their ground game. The Bucs have the better defense and should control the tempo. Tampa is a perfect 5-0 at home with each win by at least 6. Bucs.

 

Panthers +3 at Packers (NL)

Both teams have been scoring well of late with the Panthers tallying 27 points or more in four of their last five games and Green Bay doing the same prior to Monday night. Neither team has been putting up big defensive stats over the past month. OVER.

 

Giants -3 at Redskins (41)

Washington’s defense has been stout, not allowing more than 24 points in any game. These teams opened the season with a 16-7 Giants win and this rematch should be similarly low scoring. Both defenses are excellent against the run, each allowing less than 90 yards per game. New York, however, has been unstoppable on the road. Giants.

 

Dolphins -8 at Rams (43½)

St. Louis has been outscored 143-35 over its last four games. Miami is no offensive juggernaut, but has managed well with QB Chad Pennington and has generally played solid defense. Chicago went into St. Louis last week and won by 24 – the Rams’ eighth loss by at least 17 points. The Rams problem, however, has been turnovers. If they can hold onto the ball, this could be close. Rams.

 

Ravens -7 at Bengals (36½)

The Ravens dominated the Bengals to open the season, outgaining Cincy 358-154 but winning just 17-10. And that was when Cincy had Carson Palmer at QB. With Palmer lost to injury, backup Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled to lead the offense. Though, Baltimore is a far weaker team on the road, they face a team going in the wrong direction. Ravens.

 

Colts -4½ at Browns (46½)

Indy has won four straight, but each has been by six points or less. Cleveland is a competitive 4-4 in its last eight. The Browns are out of playoff contention and have QB concerns with Brady Quinn out for the rest of the season. Former starter Derek Anderson is capable and the Colts’ defense may again be without Bob Sanders. Browns.

 

Falcons +5 at Chargers (49)

Although this is a poor scheduling spot for Atlanta with a pair of division games on deck, they are the better team. The Falcons are on the road for the first time in a month following three home games. The Chargers have beaten playoff contenders New England and the Jets at home by double digits so the capability exists. But there seems to be a coaching deficiency in the beach city. This should be high scoring with the one hitting the board last taking the win. Falcons.

 

Steelers +1 at Patriots (40)

QB Matt Cassel became the first New England QB to pass for over 400 yards in consecutive games last week as he’s being given a greater part of the Playbook. Pittsburgh has not been sharp on offense as QB Ben Roethlisberger continues to deal with a banged up shoulder. Patriots.

 

Chiefs +3 at Raiders (41)

Kansas City’s league’s worst defense was torched for 462 yards by Buffalo. Oakland won the first meeting this season 23-8, rushing for 300 yards. The ground game has resurfaced with over 145 yards in two of their last three games. Still, these teams have played under games in 6 of their last 7. UNDER.

 

Bears +3½ at Vikings (41½)

Chicago won a wild 48-41 game when the teams met in Chicago in mid October. Minnesota has rushed for over 120 yards in five of their last six games. Chicago is playing its third straight road game while Minny has its only home game in a five-week stretch. The Vikes are playing with tiebreaker need. Vikings.

 

Monday, December 1

 

Jaguars +3 at Texans (48½)

Other than San Diego, no team has been more disappointing than Jacksonville. Reports of locker-room dissension and questions about coach Jack del Rio’s ability to control his team have also contributed. Houston will be fired up for a rare Monday night appearance and is off a win over Cleveland. The Jags are 1-4 in their last 5. Texans.