Week 4 NCAAF GotW: Oklahoma State @ Texas (-5.5)

Big 12 Logo     Time has arrived for College Football to go wholesale into conference competition.  I know, I know, there have already been conference matchups but starting this week, a majority of teams will play conference foes.  That is no different in the Big XII and one of the best games of the week for all of the NCAA is the Oklahoma State Cowboys at the Texas Longhorns.  Let’s jump right in to this matchup.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys travel down from Stillwater, OK and bring one of the most potent offenses in the country.  In fact, they have the NCAA’s leading rusher in Chuba Hubbard, who also leads the country in rushing TDs!  The Pokes are not only a rushing team though.  They also throw for over 260 yards per game.  These numbers are good enough to account for 50 more yards per game than the Longhorns.  Even the defense is playing better than Texas, at least statistically, holding opponents to 30 yards less per game.  Add all of that in to fact that Texas has not beaten Oklahoma St. in 5 years and have not won at home in Austin in 10 and you can make a compelling argument for the Cowboys to steal another on the road.

Texas is having none of it though!  You can bring up a 4-game losing streak  to the Longhorn players and they will all say the same thing…this isn’t the same Texas.  They would be right, too.  This year’s Texas squad has higher expectations than any this decade and those expectations are realistic this time.  Sam Ehlinger leads the Longhorns and has proven to be adept at reading defenses that are much better than Oklahoma State’s defense.  Texas will be playing with a chip on their shoulder and have been tested once already this season.  Emotions will be high and the Longhorns are gonna be pumped up for this one!

So how are these teams going to fare against each other this week?  The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a high scoring affair, with the Oklahoma State Cowboys ultimately coming out on top.  Texas has shown that they are vulnerable in the secondary after giving up just under 500 yards through the air vs LSU.  Oklahoma State is known more for passing than LSU.  The problem is that the Longhorns cannot load up on DBs with Chuba Hubbard waiting to gain 8 yards a pop!  Don’t worry about Texas, though.  They have the offensive fire-power to keep up in this matchup.  Until next time, good luck.

Oklahoma State 52 – Texas 47

Oklahoma State (+5.5) and Over 73

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Week 2 NFL GotW: Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans (-3)

Indy Colts Logo     Welcome to Week 2 of the NFL season.  The excitement of a fresh season is beginning to wear off and it is time to get to the nitty-gritty of hard-nosed football!  The Elldee Sports Game of the Week for the NFL is the Indianapolis Colts at the Tennessee Titans.  After the Titans dismantled the Browns last week 43-13, the Las Vegas book makers are backing Tennessee to win this divisional matchup.

None of the experts knew exactly what they would get with the Colts this season after the shocking retirement announcement from All-Pro Quarterback, Andrew Luck, just days before the season began.  While watching the first half of last week’s game, I am not sure if the Colts themselves knew what to expect.  They started slow against the LA Chargers before coming alive in the second half but ultimately losing in Overtime.  Once Indianapolis settled in they didn’t look all that bad.  Jacoby Brissett looks like he can lead this team to the playoffs going 21-27, 190 yards, and 2 TDs.  Not bad for a player who didn’t expect to play until 2 weeks ago.

One of the most hyped teams in the offseason was the Cleveland Browns and all of their young talent.  The Tennessee Titans didn’t care what the newpapers had said and proceeded to thoroughly handle the young team by 30 points.  Looks can be deceiving though, statistically speaking, as the Titans are 22nd in passing and barely cracked the top 10 in rushing.  Derrick Henry did not break 100 yards last week and QB Marcus Mariota finished the day with a 53 QBR.

Regardless of stats or surprise starts, this is a divisional game and the competition will be fierce.  The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 16-7 Indianapolis victory.  Many times, recency bias can create a fog when thinking about who will win from week to week.  The fact that the Colts lost and are without a star QB while the Tennessee Titans hammered a team that was a pick to be much improved has caused the public to believe that Tennessee is better than they are and worthy of being 3-point favorites.  Don’t count on it.  Until next time, good luck!

Indianapolis Colts 16 – Tennessee Titans 7

Colts (+3) and Under 44

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Week 3 NCAAF GotW: Stanford @ UCF (-7)

PAC-12 Logo     The Elldee Sports Game of the Week for College Football is the Stanford Cardinal at the Central Florida Golden Knights.  Stanford must travel from the friendly confines of Stanford Stadium, 2,800 Miles, to sunny Orlando, Florida.  A prominent Power Five school going on the road to a Group of Five school is not usual but this is not a usual Group of Five school.

The Cardinal (1-1) are coming off of a humiliating 45-20 loss to conference rival USC.  To make matters worse, they were leading early 17-3 before being outscored 42-3 for the rest of the game.  The reason for the drubbing may have been due to the fact that K.J. Costello, the starting quarterback, was out with a head injury.  The good news is that he has been cleared and will be back this week, the bad news is that even when he played in Week 1 against Northwestern, the offense struggled.  UCF is not known for defense so this may be just what the doctor ordered for the floundering unit.

The UCF Golden Knights (2-0) have not had the problems that Stanford has on the offensive side of the ball.  They are averaging 55.0 points per game but have not faced anywhere close to the competition as the Cardinal, playing against FCS foe Florida A&M and Florida Atlantic.  Although the competition was weak, they handled the opponents exactly as they should have, winning by 62 and 34 respectively.  The biggest question for the Golden Knights is who their starting quarterback will be, as they have rotated between the experienced transfer in Brandon Wimbush and the explosive freshman, Dillon Gabriel.

So who wins out?  Tradition or Johnny-Come-Lately?  Power Rushing and defense or Flashiness and Speed?  Stanford or Central Florida?  Playing in Spectrum Stadium, aka “The Bounce House”, gives UCF a decided advantage.  The Golden Knights have won 17 consecutive matches at home and look to extend that this weekend to 18.  The offense is proven and this team is confident.  That should be enough to propel them to victory.  The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 37-8 Golden Knights victory.  That final score lends itself to taking UCF -7 and under the total of 58.  Until next time, good luck!

UCF 38 – Stanford 7

UCF -7 & Under 58

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Green Bay @ Chicago

NFC Logo     It’s finally here…the NFL season kickoff!  The first game is a Thursday night doozy between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.  Divisional matchups are always hotly contested and this one will be no different as both of these squads have their eyes on the playoffs.  Although it is only Week One, this game may have enormous implications by season’s end.

Green Bay will have it’s passing game rolling behind the offensive IQ of Aaron Rodgers but do not have much of a running game to keep the defense honest.  The threat of the pass may open running lanes but if the Bears can contain the run without committing too many defenders to the box, this could turn into a laugher.  The Bears have an average offense that plays with good balance, making them unpredictable when the coaches call a good game.  Luckily for the Packers, their defense is serviceable as well giving neither team a real advantage when Chicago has the ball.

This should be a matchup of strength vs. strength.  The high-powered passing attack of the Green Bay Packers against the salty defense of the Chicago Bears.  Elldee Sports believes that the Chicago “D” can force the Pack into becoming one-dimensional.  A team that is predictable is easier to slow.  Tack that on to the fact that the Bears will be playing in front of a raucous crowd at Soldier Field and it all spells doom for Green Bay.  Take the Bears at -3 and under 46 in the season opener.

Chicago -3 and Under 46

Final:  Chicago 17 – GB 6

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Georgia State @ Tennessee: On Top of Rocky Top

SEC Logo     “Rocky Top, you’ll always be home sweet home to me.  Good ole Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee”.  If you are a member of the Georgia State Panthers, I would suggest you go ahead and get familiar with those words because you are going to hear it… A LOT!  The Georgia State Panthers are traveling to Knoxville, Tennessee to play at the revered Neyland Stadium.  The familiar confines and checkerboard endzones of Neyland don’t strike the same fear into opposing teams as it once did but coach Jeremy Pruitt has Volunteer fans seeing orange.

Georgia State was one of the worst teams in the Sun Belt Conference last year.  This year the Panthers are returning their Senior quarterback who led the team in passing and rushing from a year ago.  The offense expects to improve with experience in key positions and continuity at head coach as Shawn Elliot enters his 3rd year in Atlanta.  The defense brings back seven starters which is the good news.  The bad news is that they were one of the worst defenses in all of FBS football.  Even though the experience level has increased and on field play may improve, this unit will likely still struggle.

Everything that was said about Georgia State bodes well for the Tennessee Volunteers.  They have got to be licking their chops and chomping at the bit to get after this Georgia State team.  Coach Pruitt is a defensive mind and will have this Vol defense really amped up for this tune-up game.  The secondary is led by a talented trio of sophomores but anchored with a Senior in Nigel Warrior.  The Volunteers need to bump up the turnover margin numbers, finishing last year with -1, and going against the Panthers 92nd ranked passing offense, expect the DBs to snag a few free ones.  On offense, it is time for Junior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano to shine.  He was the #1 dual threat quarterback out of high school 3 years ago and just hasn’t shown the consistency to allow Tennessee to compete with the big boys.  With a strong group of pass catchers and a deep stable of quality running backs, the offense should finally get rolling.

Coach Jeremy Pruitt has worked hard and finally instilled a work-pail, blue-collar mentality into this Volunteer team.  That, coupled with solid recruiting, should make this team much more formidable.  They will show off their new found swagger at the expense of Georgia State this week.  The book makers have the spread a hair too high and the total a bit too much for this early season matchup, though.  Expect Tennessee to easily win but fail to cover the 25.5-point spread.  The game will also drift below 57.5.  The Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 27-6 Volunteer victory.  Until next time, good luck.

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AFC North: Will the Old Guard Finally Pass the Torch?

Baltimore Ravens Logo     In the AFC North, there is a good combination of Veteran leaders and youthful potential.  The Pittsburgh Steelers are led by Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger, two men who have lifted this rich franchise to the top of the mountain twice.  The Cincinnati Bengals are a proud franchise that has fallen on hard times yet still harbor championship aspirations.  The Cleveland Browns, a perennial laughing stock since the turn of the century believes they have finally found a leader at quarterback and an innovative young coach to take the reins.  Finally, the Baltimore Ravens, are a mix of young and old, fresh faces and experience, and may have what it takes to raise the Lombardi Trophy.  Will any of this come to fruition?

The Cincinnati Bengals have had the dynamic duo of Andy Dalton and AJ Green carrying the flag for the last several seasons.  While the pair has been admirable, the Bengals have struggled to gain serious traction in the regular season or the playoffs.  Much of that appears to have been due to the ownership’s loyalty to recently released Head Coach Marvin Lewis who underachieved for most of the past 16 years.  They have brought in new coach Zac Taylor and currently have the youngest team in the NFL.  It may also be time to move on from An aging Dalton and Green.  The Elldee Sports Formula is not kind to Cincinnati and projects only two wins this season.

One of the hottest teams in the offseason was the Cleveland Browns.  They have a young stud quarterback in Baker Mayfield, a workhorse running back in Nick Chubb, and added depth to an impressive receiving corps by picking up Odell Beckham Jr..  The defense has star power names but will need to build some chemistry and maybe a new coach to bring a new mentality.  The talent is there yet the team finished last year in 30th for overall defense.  New Coach Freddie Kitchens has come to breath life into Cleveland and was one of the most sought after names this offseason.  Talent alone can only take you so far and the schedule doesn’t do the Browns many favors, either.  The Cleveland Browns will finish the year 7-9, good enough for a 3rd place finish in the division.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most storied franchises in the NFL.  “Big Ben” Roethlisberger is an all-time great and will eventually end up in the NFL Hall of Fame.  The offense and defense both finished inside of the top 6 in the league last season.  Inevitably, this team is going to suffer, though, as the offense has lost their top RB and top WR in back to back seasons.  The defense has done a solid job of reloading and replacing old players with fresh faces.  Even though the defense expects to be top notch, they won’t be good enough to carry the offense this year.  Compound that with the rising expectations of the Browns and Baltimore Ravens means that the Steelers will finish 2nd in the North with a 10-6 record, scraping out a #6 seed in the playoffs.

The AFC North Division Championship will run through Baltimore.  The Ravens have a proven coach in John Harbaugh.  He has shown the confidence to adjust his offense to a run first, run second, pass third type of system with electric playmaker Lamar Jackson at the helm.  Mark Ingram was brought in at running back which gives this team a one-two Heisman punch in the backfield.  The defense led the league last year in total yards per game and Harbaugh has shown the ability to consistently produce a top defensive squad.  In fact, this may be Harbaugh’s most talented team and the Elldee Sports Formula is calling for a 15-1 record to go with a #1 Overall seed in the playoffs.

The AFC North should be an exciting race this year with the Baltimore Ravens finishing at the top.  The Pittsburgh Steelers will finish 2nd and earn a wildcard spot.  The continuity of the coaches on these two is what will ultimately push them over the top.  Cleveland has a lot to be hopeful for but will fall short of the playoffs for one more season.  By next year, they may be one of the top teams in the league, though.  Lastly, the Cincinnati Bengals will struggle.  A new coach (also first time NFL Head Coach) and the NFL’s youngest team will prove too much to overcome.  Especially when facing this loaded division.  Until next time, good luck!

 

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