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Free Pick: 2009 Music City Bowl – Kentucky vs. Clemson

| December 27, 2009 | 0 Comments

kentucky vs. clemson pickAs you look at this game from the perspective of the NCAA football bowl betting odds, you are looking for stars, you are going to find them on the Clemson team. Defensive ends Da’Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp are standouts who will go high in the NFL Draft. DeAndre McDaniel is one of the best defensive backs in the country, and made eight interceptions on the season.

Wide receiver Jacoby Ford is a speedster who caught 53 passes for 735 yards this year. Yet the biggest star is running back CJ Spiller, the guy who should have won the Heisman Trophy. Spiller is simply the biggest game-breaker in the country, a guy who scored eleven touchdowns rushing, four more receiving and five more on kick returns, and ranked fourth in the country in all-purpose yards. His 233-yard rushing day against Georgia Tech in the ACC title game was a classic.

Here are some of the college football betting trends as they relate to this matchup:
•KY has won and covered five of its last seven games
•KY has played three of its last four games OVER the total
•CLEM has won six of its last eight games SU
•CLEM has played its last six games OVER the total

Yet Clemson lost that game, both straight-up and in the NCAA football betting odds, and that leads us to where our doubts about Clemson in this game are. We don’t question that this team has ability and playmakers, but after the surge the Tigers had toward the end of the season, during which time they won six straight games and averaged 40 points a game, it was a downer to lose to South Carolina in the big rivalry game. Another big loss was to Georgia Tech in the conference title game, which brought with it an invitation to the BCS. This is the kind of thing that might impact their performance in this game.

Clemson’s freshman quarterback, Kyle Parker, rebounded form a rough start to finish with 56% completions and 19 touchdowns. But he’ll be tested severely by the Kentucky secondary, which allowed opposing passer to complete just 48% of their throws, with 16 interceptions. Since the disastrous loss to Florida, where the Wildcats gave up 31 points in the first quarter, they have played better, and at one point, captured five of six, including straight-up wins at Georgia and Auburn. This is not a team that will roll over.

Kentucky has a pretty good two-fisted running attack, with go-to people in Derrick Locke (843 yards) and Randall “Not Tex” Cobb (537 yards), both of whom can also catch the ball out of the backfield. Cobb is the key guy in the Wildcats’ wildcat formation. Mike Hartline, who was the MVP of last year’s Liberty Bowl, has returned from injury, and he will provide a change of pace for an offense that also has the mobile Morgan Newton (55%, 5 TD’s) available at quarterback.

Kentucky is not a team that will overwhelm you with statistics, but they are very comfortable at this bowl, having appeared in Nashville three of the last four years, and coach Rich Brooks has basically said that they’ve got the drill down pat. Also, they are happy to be in the game, which maybe just as important when you’re talking about an underdog getting more than a TD.

We’re going with Kentucky, catching 7.5 points.
(Graded on a scale of 1-4 stars)

Free Pick: Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets: December 27th 2009

| December 26, 2009 | 0 Comments

colts vs. jets free pickIndianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets
Free Pick: New York Jets +5.5 (December 27th 2009 – Matt Fargo)

The Colts snuck by yet again this past week, this time a four-point win over the Jaguars to move to 14-0 on the season. The starters played the entire game but once again there is the debate about whether or not those starters will play a full game again this week. I am playing this game as it the Colts starters will be in the entire game, or at least the majority of it, and if they come out early, that is only an added benefit to us. Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said Monday the team has not yet decided how long starters will play and he said he plans to play all players who are healthy, but he didn’t elaborate on just how long those healthy starters would play against the Jets and that alone tells us that they will likely be coming out before this game is over. We shall see. The Jets lost a brutal game at home against the Falcons on Sunday which severely hurt their playoff chances. Now they will have to defeat the lone remaining undefeated team in the league and then win at home against the Bengals next week who may still very well be playing for something also.

New York is tied with five other teams at 7-7 and winning out for any of them could mean nothing as they all trail both Baltimore and Denver by a game for those Wild Card playoff spots. Any losses by any of those teams means their playoff shots are done so the Jets obviously need to win this game. They have actually fared better on the road this season, going 4-3 and while this is the hardest test of all, it is one that can be passed. Indianapolis has been winning but it has been anything but impressive in my eyes. Over the last seven games, the Colts have actually been outgained in five of those and the other two saw yardage advantages by only 21 and 24 total yards. In total over this stretch, Indianapolis is -145 in yardage which is a big surprise for a team that is 7-0 over that span. Making matters worse is that they have been outrushed in eight straight games and that will play right into the gameplan of the Jets who are one of the best rushing teams in the NFL and they have a +271 rushing yardage differential over the last three games.

The overall Jets defense has been great recently and what better time to be playing good than against one of the best offenses in the NFL. New York has allowed only 8.0 ppg over the last four games and it has outgained all four opponents. If not for a late touchdown by the Falcons, the Jets would be on a 4-0 run heading into this game. The Jets also fall into a solid contrarian situation. Play against teams with a winning percentage greater than .750 after three consecutive covers as a favorite in the second half of the season. This situation is 23-7 ATS (76.7 percent) over the last 10 seasons. 3* New York Jets

Free Pick: Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns: December 27th 2009

| December 25, 2009 | 0 Comments

raiders vs. browns pickOakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns
Free Pick: Oakland +3 (December 27th 2009 – Wunderdog Sports)

The Raiders undoubtedly have QB issues, but last week they pounded the Broncos for 241 yards on the ground. Charlie Frye gets the start here and against Cleveland, he’ll be good enough. After watching the Chiefs go for 5.6 yards a pop vs. the Browns, I expect Oakland to find some success in this game. The Raiders were struggling against the run, but the last two weeks have held opponents to less than 3.8 yards per carry in each contest. Brady Quinn is done for the year, meaning Derek Anderson gets the QB assignment which hasn’t been good for the Browns. He has already had two chances to secure the starting role, with the lowly Quinn his competition. He couldn’t grab the starting spot either time. The Raiders and Browns are both bad teams, but the Raiders have shown a much higher ceiling with wins over Denver, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Cleveland has had no success as a favorite and really don’t belong in that role as the last four times they have been given the oddsmakers edge they are 0-4 ATS. The fact is that in those four games, the Browns lost them all straight up, which certainly is more likely than not to repeat itself here. The Raiders have played their best ball on the road this year, posting three of their five wins, while the Browns are just 1-5 at home. I like the Raiders in this one.