As the days get shorter, the games get more important, with the NCAA football schedule moving into Week 12, highlighted by a West Coast showdown in the Pac-12.
Stanford dealt a severe blow to Oregon’s national championship hopes in the game of the week last week, and the Cardinal (8-1 SU, 5-4 ATS) next travel downstate to meet resurgent Southern Cal (7-3, 5-5 ATS) on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Stanford has covered the spread in its last three games and five its last seven. More important, the Cardinal have owned the rivalry with the Trojans lately, going 5-1 SU and ATS in the last six clashes, including 3-0 SU and ATS at the Coliseum.
According to Peter Korner, founder of Nevada-based odds service The Sports Club, this game became tougher to set a line due to USC’s upswing (4-1 SU and ATS) since the firing of Lane Kiffin, with Ed Orgeron taking over as interim coach. The Trojans hammered host California 62-28 on Saturday.
“It’s a good game with a lot riding on it,” Korner said. “Our range went from pick to Stanford -3.5, and we sent out -2.5. Stanford is the better team, no doubt, but since the coaching change at USC, the Trojans have looked pretty good. USC will be challenged to score against the tough Stanford defense, but we think the game line will hold pretty well just where it is”
Texas Tech Red Raiders at Baylor Bears (-27)
Baylor (8-0 SU) is third in the nation against the spread (7-1 ATS), and the Bears are coming off a 42-14 home drubbing of Oklahoma. Baylor’s high-octane offense leads the nation, averaging a whopping 687.6 yards and 61 points a game. Baylor also has a top-10 defense, yielding just 15.4 ppg.
Texas Tech (7-3, 5-5 ATS) also has a prolific offense, churning out 530.5 ypg and 37.8 ppg. In the past two meetings, these two teams have piled up the points, with the Bears going 2-0 SU and ATS in wins of 52-45 in overtime last year and 66-42 in 2011. Both were neutral-site games at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, where Saturday’s game will also be played.
“Not much to say about Baylor games. Pretty much we go with the highest number of the oddsmakers on staff. This week it was Baylor -27, and that's what we sent out. After manhandling Oklahoma, both sharps and squares will be all over the favorite again this week. We can only see this game going up from here.”
Georgia Bulldogs at Auburn Tigers (-3.5)
Georgia (6-3 SU) was considered a national title contender at the beginning of the season, but the Bulldogs have been reduced to spoiler role for this SEC showdown, and if past performance is any guarantee of future results, they won’t cover. The Bulldogs are a meager 1-7-1 ATS this year – 122nd among the 125 FBS teams.
Meanwhile, Auburn (9-1 SU, 8-2 ATS) has made a huge turnaround from last season (3-9 SU, 4-8 ATS), with a top-10 ranking and an outside shot at making the SEC championship game (archrival Alabama stands firmly in the way).
In the Dawgs’ favor: They’ve hammered the Tigers each of the last two years, 38-0 laying 15.5 points at Auburn last season and 45-7 giving 12 at home in 2011.
“Our range was from pick to Auburn -4.5, and we sent out -3.5. My quick knee-jerk reaction after looking at it again was probably too low. Auburn has stepped it up offensively the past five, six weeks and looks to be primed for this big SEC game. Georgia is no easy task, but as far as the line goes, we could see the wise guys hopping on the home team by kickoff.”
Ball State Cardinals at Northern Illinois Huskies (-8)
Off the big-time college football grid a bit, Northern Illinois is making a bid to be a BCS buster for the second-straight year.
The unbeaten Huskies (9-0 SU, 6-3 ATS) first must secure the West Division title in the Mid-American Conference in a Wednesday night tilt with the Cardinals (9-1 SU, 7-3 ATS), with both teams unbeaten in league play (Ball State 6-0, NIU 5-0).
NIU has cashed in its last three games and five of its last six, and the Huskies have won the last four in this rivalry (2-2 ATS).
“This is a big game in the MAC and should attract some good money,” Korner said. “We had a range of Northern Illinois -6.5 to -9, and we sent out -8. Northern Illinois has been scoring at an outrageous pace the past few weeks (59 and 63 points the last two games, respectively), and we feel it will be a challenge for Ball State to keep up. Not that Ball State won't be competitive. The higher the better here. Offshores look to be a little low on this one, sitting at 5-5.5.”