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UCONN, PURDUE AMONG INTRIGUING WEEKEND PICKS
Fri, 03 Sep 2010 07:48 PM EDT

The first week of the college football season has arrived and it will provide pigskin punters with a variety of wagering offerings from Thursday through Monday. While there are plenty of “paycheck” games involving ranked teams favored by wide margins over seemingly outclassed opponents, there are also a number of compelling matchups, including three games in which both teams are ranked. Las Vegas Odds

On Saturday, (21) LSU and (18) North Carolina will square off in Atlanta in primetime. Another primetime contest features (24) Oregon State and BCS party crasher (6) TCU. The biggest game of the weekend will take place on Monday night when (3) Boise State and (10) Virginia Tech meet up in our nation’s capital. TCU and Boise State were among the nation’s best ATS last season as they both marched through their regular seasons undefeated straight up before squaring off in the Fiesta Bowl, which was won by Boise 17-10. The Broncos were 9-5 ATS, tied for ninth in FBS, while the Horned Frogs were 8-5 ATS, tied for 17th. Virginia Tech was also a solid play last year, going 8-5 ATS. We’ll take a closer look at that intriguing Monday night matchup over this coming weekend. Scores

Last season’s ATS champions were the University of Connecticut Huskies. Randy Edsall’s squad covered the line in 11 of 13 games while posting an 8-5 record straight up, which included an overtime victory in South Bend. The Huskies’ five SU losses last year were by 2, 3, 4, 4 and 2 points. They are a 3-point underdog this Saturday in the Big House. Michigan began last season 4-0 straight up and 3-1 ATS, but went 1-7 SU and 1-6 ATS the rest of the way (one game vs. FCS opponent). Fox Sheets show that the smart money is on UConn in this one. Play Against – Any team (MICHIGAN) – in the first week of the season, after closing out last season with 5 or more straight losses, with an experienced QB returning as starter. (36-10 over the last 10 seasons.) (78.3%, +25 units. Rating = 3*).

Michigan was not the only high-profile program that struggled ATS last season. Despite all finishing with records of .500 or higher, USC (9-4 SU, 4-9 ATS) and Notre Dame (6-6, 3-8-1) were ranked 111th and 113th, respectively, ATS among the 120 FBS schools. All the teams below them had losing records. This should not be all that surprising given that lines are made with the public perception in mind. Backers of fabled college football institutions such as these must remind themselves that odds on these schools are often inflated because of their reputations.

(14) USC kicks off its season in Hawaii on Thursday night and is a three TD favorite. Fox Sheets are not scared by that large number: Play Against – A home team (HAWAII) – poor passing defense from last season – allowed a comp pct of 58% or worse, with 5 offensive starters returning. (33-4 over the last 10 seasons.) (89.2%, +28.6 units. Rating = 5*). This Fox Sheet stat also pertains to Saturday’s Hoosier State battle between Purdue and Notre Dame in South Bend. The host Irish are a double-digit favorite. They defeated the Boilermakers 24-21 last season, but Purdue covered the 6-point spread. Further Fox Sheet ammunition for Purdue: Play Against – A home team (NOTRE DAME) – first month of the season, after closing out last season with 4 or more losses in last 5 games, with 5 offensive starters returning. (30-8 over the last 10 seasons.) (78.9%, +21.2 units. Rating = 3*). Odds

Top-ranked defending National Champion Alabama hosts San Jose State in one of those aforementioned “paycheck” games. The Tide, 14-0 straight up last year, were also a strong 9-4 ATS. On the flip side, the Spartans were 2-10 both SU and ATS. Their record ATS was worst among all FBS schools.


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