NCAA Football

Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Texas A&M Aggies Odds, College Football Pick

Arizona State ended last season on a 4-1 run on the totals, while Texas A&M played three over results for bettors in its last four games to close last season. So the defenses better be ready when the Sun Devils and Aggies meet for the first time ever on a supposedly neutral field in Houston on Saturday night.


Point spread: Aggies opened as three-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (see line updates and matchup report).


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 31.1-22.8 Sun Devils


Why the Arizona State Sun Devils can cover the spread

Arizona State gets back 16 starters this season from a team that nearly won a second-straight Pac-12 South title last year. The Sun Devils return seven starters on offense, including three along the offensive line, and a senior at quarterback in Mike Bercovici, who's not exactly a newbie after throwing nearly 200 passes last season. Nine starters are also back on defense, including five of last year's top six tacklers.

Head coach Todd Graham has a good thing going in Tempe, and a victory over a quality opponent would certainly help in the grand scheme of things for this season.


Why the Texas A&M Aggies can cover the spread

Texas A&M also returns 16 starters this season, the most it's had in its four seasons under head coach Kevin Sumlin. Eight starters are back on offense, including quarterback Kyle Allen, last year's leading rusher Tra Carson and three along the offensive line. Also, eight starters return on defense, including the entire front line and three-quarters of the secondary.

The Aggies struggled through the second half of last season, with some turbulence at the quarterback position, but did manage to pull off a minor upset over West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl to finish 8-5. This year A&M looks ready to roll right from the start.


Smart pick

Texas A&M figures to own a home-crowd advantage for this game, playing just an hour-and-a-half drive from College Station, but the oddsmakers might have the wrong team favored in this game. ASU went 10-3 last year with just eight returning starters; this year it has double that figure. The Sun Devils might just win this game outright.


Betting trends

The total has gone over in eight of Arizona State's last 12 games on the road.

Texas A&M is 2-7 ATS in its last nine games.

Arizona State is 0-4 SU in its last four games vs. the SEC.


All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

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Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Texas A&M Aggies Odds, College Football Pick

Arizona State ended last season on a 4-1 run on the totals, while Texas A&M played three over results for bettors in its last four games to close last season...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Byron Murphy Tweets Top 8: Which Schools Have Best Chance to Land 4-Star?

Top-rated Arizona class-of-2016 defender Byron Murphy revealed the current state of his recruitment Monday evening, unveiling a collection of eight favorites on Twitter:

The 5'11", 160-pound Saguaro High School senior is among the Southwest region's premier prospects. Murphy commanded several scholarship offers as an underclassman and cemented his status as an elite playmaker last season.

He caught 65 passes for 1,348 yards and 13 touchdowns, per MaxPreps, adding 53 tackles and six interceptions in the defensive backfield. Murphy teamed up with Wisconsin quarterback commit Kare Lyles and 5-star Texas A&M signee Christian Kirk, leading Saguaro to a state title.

His skill set suits him well on both sides of the ball, though he is widely viewed as a collegiate cornerback. Murphy is rated ninth nationally at the position in composite rankings.

Bleacher Report recruiting analyst Damon Sayles broke down his game during B/R's CFB Recruiting 200 Series.

Murphy is a high-motor player who has a knack for making a big play at the right time. His change of direction is solid, and he stays in plays with his recovery speed. When the ball is in the air, he goes into attack mode.

Murphy's awareness may be his best asset. He has good vision and recognizes routes well. He uses his instincts to break up plays and create turnovers.

Plenty of programs would love to land Murphy before national signing day, and this latest development provides a glimpse at legitimate contenders. 

He included in-state options Arizona and Arizona State, along with Pac-12 opponents USC and Washington. Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M round out the list.

It's a group of potential landing spots representing three Power Five conferences. A commitment date is yet to be determined, so this process seems destined to feature multiple official visits and a fairly late decision. 

Murphy mentioned in the tweet he would consider alternative universities if new offers arrive. Judging by his hot start—317 receiving yards and four scores through two games, per—expect other coaching staffs to evaluate him further.

Arizona and Washington currently carry the bulk of experts' predictions in 247Sports' Crystal Ball. Both teams claim 40 percent of commitment projections, while USC accounts for the remaining 20 percent.

Murphy is clearly a coveted commodity in Pac-12 territory, so don't be surprised if at least three of his official visits occur within the conference. Arizona and Arizona State are each unlikely to stop pursuing the local playmaker until his national letter of intent is signed, sealed and delivered, despite a possible midseason pledge elsewhere.

Beyond state borders, Texas A&M is an intriguing option to monitor. The Aggies beat out a crowded pack of suitors for Kirk, a former Saguaro star, in the 2015 recruiting cycle.

Now head coach Kevin Sumlin and company aim to pull off another pivotal pickup from the same program. Texas A&M is a no-brainer on Murphy's remaining travel itinerary, especially since Kirk can host him on campus.

He is expected to visit College Station on Oct. 16, per 247Sports. That trip will be preceded by an official visit to Washington later this month.

Now that Murphy is on the record about his top choices, he can anticipate schools to push hard for campus visits in the coming months. It's not quite crunch time yet, but the prized prospect appears primed to enter this final stretch with plenty of interest.


Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

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Louisville vs. Auburn Complete Game Preview

For the fourth straight year, Auburn will open its season with a matchup against an opponent from a Power Five conference. Three seasons after their Week 1 loss to Clemson, the Tigers will return to the Georgia Dome for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to face a new ACC power—Louisville.

Gus Malzahn's Auburn program heads into Atlanta with some new faces that are still familiar—from a star quarterback who has already taken the field in an opener to an elite defensive coordinator who once roamed the sidelines on the Plains.

Louisville has its own set of questions and new starters after sending a large amount of talent to the NFL ranks from last year's 9-4 squad. Head coach Bobby Petrino, who is quite familiar with the Auburn program, will have his Cardinals prepared to pull off the upset and put a dent in the Tigers' huge hopes for 2015.

How does Auburn match up with Louisville on both sides of the ball? Before we break down this Saturday's intriguing clash, here is the basic info you need to know about the latest edition of the kickoff classic.

Date: Saturday, September 5

Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Location: Atlanta (Georgia Dome)


Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network; U of L Radio Network

Line: Auburn -10.5, according to Odds Shark

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Georgia Football: Recruits React to Bulldogs Adding Indoor Practice Facility

The Georgia Bulldogs football team tabbing Greyson Lambert as their starting quarterback wasn’t the only big announcement out of Athens on Monday.

The Bulldogs also released photos of a $30 million project that will add an indoor practice facility on campus.

According to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald, there will be a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility in December and it’s expected to be completed before the 2017 season.

The news was a welcomed development for Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt, and something that he and his staff have been harping on in their recent recruiting efforts.

How are recruits reacting to the renderings of the new facility and what are their thoughts on its design and use? 

For 2016 3-star corner and current Georgia pledge Chad Clay, the news of an indoor facility is something that creates excitement about his future at the next level.

“[Georgia] already has beautiful facilities, but now with the indoor, it’s perfect,” Clay told Bleacher Report. “Because here in Georgia, we have all types of weather. In August and September, we may not have to go outside all the time when it’s 100 degrees. Then later in the year toward bowl season, you don’t have to practice in the snow or freezing temperatures. I think it helps keep practices productive. Some days, it might rain really hard and you can’t get things done like normal. With the indoor, you can go on about your business and get quality work in.”

Clay—who is a solid pledge despite schools such as Oklahoma making a push for him—also said the facility is something the Bulldogs coaching staff has been pumped about.

“They told us [about it] and said it would be up and complete for the majority of the time our class is here,” Clay said. “That’s pretty cool to be a part of the first class that will use it.”

While Clay is already bound for Athens, a pair of top targets for the Bulldogs in the 2017 cycle also had favorable views on the new addition to Georgia’s campus.

While he admits he wasn’t previously aware of the project, 2017 4-star athlete Jamyest Williams said it’s something that shows the Bulldogs commitment to maintaining a program that can compete for championships in the future.

“Today was my first time hearing about it,” Williams said. “I think that it’s very nice and I think it will will help the Bulldogs in the future.”

Likewise, fellow 2017 standout and 5-star corner Deangelo Gibbs has been a fixture on Georgia’s campus in recent months.

Gibbs noted that the new facility helps Georgia in the rapidly growing arms race in the SEC, where most programs already have indoor facilities.

“I think it looks great,” Gibbs said. “Every time I go up there, the coaches are talking about it and they are excited about it coming together. That’s been a big project for them. It’s cool for Georgia to get an indoor facility because a lot of other top programs already have them. I can’t wait for it to be ready so I can check it out when I get back on campus.”


Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. 

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10 College Football Players Who Will Dominate Stat Sheet in Week 1

Hey, look at that: There's (FBS) football in two days. By Saturday, your normal fall routine of vegging out on the couch/grilling/tailgating/enjoying adult beverages before the noon-o-clock hour will be back in full swing. 

So let's get to actual football predictions. Which players will light up the stat sheet in Week 1? 

Keep in mind these are not predictions of which team will win. Rather, it's a projection of which players can have huge games on the stat sheet because of a particular match-up that's advantageous for them. Specifically, we're going with teams that have released Week 1 depth charts. It's kind of hard to determine if a quarterback will have a big game if he still has an "OR" listed next to his name. 

With a few exceptions—Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. facing off against his former team is an obvious storyline—we'll try to stay away from the obvious stat-friendly games. There's a good chance Georgia running back Nick Chubb will top 100 yards against Louisiana-Monroe before halftime. That basically goes without saying. 

With that in mind, here are 10 players who could have huge games in Week 1. 

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Baylor Bears vs. Southern Methodist Mustangs Betting Odds, College Football Pick

Baylor owns the recent rivalry with former Southwestern Conference foe SMU, winning the last 11 meetings in a row and covering the spread in its last five matchups. The Bears are fully expected to extend at least one of those streaks when they visit Dallas to begin what they hope is a run to the College Football Playoff against the Mustangs Friday night.


Point spread: Bears opened as 20-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (Line updates and matchup report).

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 51.3-21.5 Bears


Why the Baylor Bears can cover the spread

Baylor returns 18 starters, nine on each side of the ball, from a team that won the Big 12 but just missed making the first ever College Football Playoff last season. Offensively the Bears have to replace quarterback Bryce Petty, but they return a 1,000-yard rusher (Shock Linwood), two 1,000-yard receivers (Corey Coleman, K.D. Cannon) and the entire offensive line. And defensively, they get back the entire front four and secondary.

This team could be a monster. The Bears beat the Mustangs in Waco last season 45-0, outgaining them by over 500 yards and covering as 34-point favorites, and most signs point to something similar happening Friday night.


Why the Southern Methodist Mustangs can cover the spread

Southern Methodist is operating under a new coaching regime after the 1-11 mess that was last season, but at least there's a little something to work with. The Mustangs return 16 starters this season, nine on offense and seven on defense, including last year's starting quarterback (Matt Davis), the entire offensive line, three quarters of the front four and three quarters of the secondary.

Outside of a minor miracle, the Mustangs won't win this game, but if they can play a little defense, grind out some first downs and avoid turning the ball over they could cover this spread.


Smart pick

Baylor is a top-five team in its eighth season under head coach Art Briles, shooting for a spot in the College Football Playoff. SMU, on the other hand, is playing its first game for new head coach Chad Morris, which means a learning curve which will probably extend through the entire season. Also, playing on the road means the spread is a little more manageable, as far as the chalk is concerned. The smart money in this spot resides with the Bears.


Betting trends

SMU is 0-20 SU in its last 20 games vs. the Big 12.

SMU is 4-8 ATS in its last 12 games.

Baylor is 5-0 SU and ATS in its last five meetings with SMU.


All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

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Texas Longhorns vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Odds, College Football Pick

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish ended last season with a thud, losing four of their last five games and going 1-5 against the spread over their last six contests. The Irish and their financial backers are hoping they can put that behind them and begin this season anew when they host the Texas Longhorns Saturday night in South Bend.


Point spread: The Fighting Irish opened as nine-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (see line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark's computer: 25.7-20.3 Fighting Irish


Why the Longhorns can cover the spread

Texas only returns 12 starters this year from a team that went 6-7 with a bad bowl loss last season, but this is just part of the process in which new head coach Charlie Strong finds the players for his system and puts them into place.

And great talent exists across the board. Seven starters are back on offense, including dual-threat quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and the entire offensive line, while five starters are back on defense, including three-quarters of the secondary.

Strong had to clean out the barn when he took over last season, and while that made for a tough debut season in Austin, he's got this program heading in the right direction.


Why the Fighting Irish can cover the spread

After beginning last season with just 10 returning starters, Notre Dame gets back 16 this season. Seven return on offense, including last year's leading rusher, top four receivers and three of the big dogs up front. Nine starters are back on defense, so improvement is almost a certainty on that side of the ball.

The Irish lost five games last season, but three of them came by a total of 10 points, including a heartbreaker against Florida State. With more experience, Notre Dame should be able to turn those close losses into close wins.


Smart pick

Notre Dame may very well win this game, but the Irish are just 10-13 ATS as home favorites under head coach Brian Kelly and just 12-18 ATS when favored by a touchdown or more, regardless of the site, over that same span. So it appears the smart money in this spot resides with Texas, plus the points.


Betting trends

The total has gone under in five of Texas' last six games.

The total has gone over in seven of Notre Dame's last eight games.

Notre Dame is 1-5 ATS in its last six games.


All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

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Why Ohio State Will Continue Momentum, Avoid Upset vs. Virginia Tech

The Ohio State Buckeyes have a big year ahead as defending college football national champions. Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe and College Football Analyst Michael Felder discuss how Ohio State will have a big Week 1 victory against Virginia Tech.

Can the Buckeyes overcome the Hokies? Tell us in the comments section below.

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SEC Football Q&A: Is Alabama Overrated?

It's game week, which means SEC football Q&A is kicking that door down and making its illustrious return to Bleacher Report.

Each Tuesday, I'll answer your questions that are submitted via Twitter about anything in the world of SEC football. Basically, this is the weekly story in which you, the fans, drive the conversation.

So send your questions for next week to @BarrettSallee, and we'll get to them. In the meantime, here's the first SEC football Q&A of the 2015 season.

Woah boy, let's get this year's Q&A started off with a bang, shall we?

No, Alabama isn't overrated. In fact, head coach Nick Saban's crew is being properly rated heading into this season.

When Alabama was winning three titles in five years, it almost received a tag of being invincible from the college football world, despite losing games in national title years in 2011 and 2012 and needing a whole lot of luck down the stretch to even play for those crystal footballs.

The Crimson Tide has the lingering problem of a secondary that gives up too many big plays and some questions on offense, but has proved to be a national title contender over the last two seasons despite similar issues on the roster.

They're ranked third in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, and fourth in the newly released Bleacher Report Top 25. Essentially, what voters are saying (and I ranked Alabama No. 3 in the B/R poll) is that Saban's crew is solid, has questions and, if it answers them correctly, will be considered a team that's worthy of a national championship.

That's right where the Tide should be.

Jeremy Johnson has enjoyed a meteoric rise to near the top of the Heisman odds board, which I explained here earlier this summer.

Since you specifically asked about quarterbacks who haven't started a game yet, that also eliminates Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs, Texas A&M's Kyle Allen and Georgia's Greyson Lambert—who was Virginia's starter last year.

I'll go with Ole Miss starting quarterback Chad Kelly. Head coach Hugh Freeze named the junior college transfer as his starter for the season opener against UT-Martin, although he did say that Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade will also play.

I don't buy that for one second.

Kelly has a strong arm, more upside than either of his primary competitors and is a threat with his legs on the ground. He has weapons all around him with a wide receiving corps led by Laquon Treadwell, a solid downfield threat up the seam with tight end Evan Engram and a coach in Freeze who knows how to find ways to put stress on opposing defenses.

If Freeze can give Kelly a little help in the running game between the tackles, the Rebels will get back into the College Football Playoff discussion and Kelly will be the man dominating all of the headlines.

I guess it would be easy to go with new starting quarterback Greyson Lambert, but that's probably too easy, right?

So I'll side with freshman wide receiver Terry Godwin.

At 5'11", 174 pounds, it might seem like Godwin is destined to be a slot receiver in the Classic City. But he plays much bigger than his frame (like Texas A&M stud and fellow freshman Christian Kirk), runs incredibly crisp routes, has tremendous body control and that slot role will be occupied by the "Human Joystick" Isaiah McKenzie anyway.

"Some guys are naturally born to play certain positions," receivers coach Bryan McClendon said, according to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald. "I think Terry was naturally born to play wide receiver. Things come naturally for him. The game of football comes very easy to him."

Expect new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to get Godwin involved in the game plan in a variety of ways, use him to get Lambert comfortable with his new role and provide a nice one-two punch with veteran receiver Malcolm Mitchell.

I guess you can say that since Urban Meyer really figured out what it takes to win as the front man of a big-time college program, but it's not like Ohio State was an also-ran before he got there. 

Major programs like Ohio State, Oregon, Florida State and others were part of the same rise in coaching salaries, recruiting budgets and facility upgrades that helped build the SEC into a power—there were just more SEC teams in that pool that found success over the last 10 or 15 years.

If you want to relate Meyer's success to what he learned in the SEC, that's fine. But it's a little more simplistic than that.

He is simply focused on being a big-time program in Columbus, where a foundation was already waiting for him when he got the job prior to the 2012 season.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics are courtesy of

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93 XM 208. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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Louisville Cardinals vs. Auburn Tigers: Odds, Analysis, College Football Pick

The Louisville Cardinals were a great road bet last season, going 5-1 against the spread and covering their last four road contests in a row. The Cardinals begin this season away from home when they take on Auburn in an interesting matchup at the neutral Georgia Dome on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.


Point Spread: The Tigers opened as 10.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (see line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark's computer: 21.0-20.1 Tigers


Why the Louisville Cardinals can cover the spread

Louisville only returns nine starters from a team that went 9-4 last season but also adds several quality transfers for its second season under head coach Bobby Petrino.

Five starters are back on offense, led by quarterback Will Gardner and last year's leading rusher, Brandon Radcliffe, and while only four starters are back on defense, they're all among the front seven. And three transfers, including former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields, are expected to fill three other spots.

Despite the low number of returning starters ,the Cardinals have enough to at least keep this one close, and possibly pull off the outright upset.


Why the Auburn Tigers can cover the spread

Auburn returns 12 starters this season from a team that went 8-5 last season, an almost inevitable regression after nearly winning the national championship the season before.

Only four starters are back on offense, but they're led by a Heisman candidate at quarterback in Jeremy Johnson and three of the big boys along the offensive line. And eight starters return on defense, which is now led by new (and former) coordinator Will Muschamp, who has gotten some great results in the past.

Two years ago, on their way to the BCS title game, the Tigers went 12-2 against the spread; last year they went 4-9. Might another reversal be in order?


Smart pick

Auburn went only 3-6 ATS as a favorite last season, while Louisville, as mentioned above, had great success as an underdog. And while improvement is expected for the Tigers on defense, it might take a little time. The smart betting choice here is with the Cardinals and the points.


Betting trends

Auburn is 2-9 ATS in its last 11 games.

The total has gone under in nine of Louisville's last 12 games on the road.

The total has gone under in 11 of Auburn's last 13 games vs. the ACC.


All point-spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and get Odds Shark's free odds tracker app.

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TCU Horned Frogs vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers Odds, Analysis, Football Pick

While nearly making a run to the College Football Playoff last season, TCU made a nice profit for its financial backers, going 11-2 against the spread, one of the best marks in the country. The Horned Frogs open this season as road favorites up in Big Ten country when they visit Minnesota to tangle with the Golden Gophers Thursday night.

Point spread: Horned Frogs opened as 16-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.


College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 40.8-22.8 Horned Frogs


Why the TCU Horned Frogs can cover the spread

TCU returns 15 starters this season from a team that lost just one game and just missed the first ever College Football Playoff last season. That contingent is led by quarterback Trevone Boykin, who begins this season as a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, four along the offensive line and three along the defensive front four. TCU begins this season ranked No. 2 in the both major polls, and with good reason as it's got the talent, and head coach Gary Patterson should have plenty of motivation to make another run at a playoff berth.


Why the Minnesota Golden Gophers can cover the spread

Minnesota returns 12 starters this season from a team that got within about three quarters of playing in the Big Ten title game last season. Five starters are back on offense, including quarterback Mitch Leidner who enters his second season as the starter, although they do have to replace 1,600-yard rusher David Cobb. Seven starters are back on defense. More importantly, however, this is probably the best team, depth-wise, that head coach Jerry Kill has had in his five seasons with the Golden Gophers. Also, Minnesota is 3-0 against the spread its last three times out as a home underdog.


Smart pick

After getting snubbed by the playoff committee last year, the Horned Frogs will be taking no chances this season. Win, and win big if possible, is the plan. Minnesota, meanwhile, is an improving program under Kill, but probably doesn't have enough to pull off the upset here. Also, these teams just met back in Week 2 of last season, when as a 16-point home favorite TCU cashed in with a 30-7 victory. This time the game is in Minnesota, but that just means the spread is little more amenable. The smart pick here is the road Frogs.


Betting trends

TCU is 14-2 ATS in its last 16 games.

The total has gone under in seven of Minnesota's last 10 games at home.

Minnesota is 4-1 ATS in its last five Week 1 games.


All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Betting Odds, College Football Pick

The Ohio State Buckeyes ride a 13-game winning streak into this season, which includes a 9-4 run against the spread. The last game the Buckeyes lost came last September, at home against Virginia Tech. Ohio State opens this season with revenge on its mind, heading into a rematch with the Hokies in Blacksburg Monday night.


Point spread: Buckeyes opened as 14-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)

College football pick, via Odds Shark computer: 60.6-34.7 Buckeyes


Why the Ohio State Buckeyes can cover the spread

Ohio State returns 14 starters from the team that went 14-1 and rolled to a national championship last season. Seven starters are back on offense, including quarterback J.T. Barrett, who accounted for 45 touchdowns last season, running back Ezekiel Elliott, who ran for 1,900 yards, and four along the offensive line.

Seven starters return on defense, including last year's top four tacklers. The Buckeyes begin this season as the top-ranked team in the land, and with good reason; talent abounds, along with experience, and they're led by one of the best head coaches in college football. And playing on the road means the spread is a little more amenable.


Why the Virginia Tech Hokies can cover the spread

Virginia Tech gets back 16 starters this year from a team that won three of its last four games last season, including a bowl upset over Cincinnati, to finish 7-6. Eight starters are back on offense, led by senior quarterback Michael Brewer and last year's top two rushers and top three receivers.

Eight starters return on defense, including three of last year's top four tacklers. Also, the Hokies are 4-2 ATS in their last six games as home underdogs. Finally, Virginia Tech upset Ohio State last year in Columbus, and while the Buckeyes are most certainly out for revenge, that can sometimes backfire.


Smart pick

The Hokies caught the Buckeyes in a bad spot last season, with a quarterback making his first collegiate start behind a young offensive line, but that's not the case this time around. Ohio State is the consensus best team in the country, favored by what looks to be a manageable spread. Blacksburg can be a tough place to play for a visiting team, but the Buckeyes aren't your average team; they're super-talented, deep and battle-tested. The smart money here resides with OSU, minus the points.


Betting trends

Ohio State is 13-0 SU and 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games.

The total has gone over in seven of Ohio State's last 10 games on the road.

Virginia Tech is 1-5 ATS in its last six games at home.


All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark; all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

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Wisconsin Badgers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Odds, Analysis, College Football Pick

Alabama is 4-1 both straight-up and against the spread in its last five games against Big Ten conference opponents, while Wisconsin is 1-3 both SU and ATS in its last four games against SEC conference opponents.

Therefore, the betting trends seem to side with the Crimson Tide for Saturday night's season opener against the Badgers on a neutral field in Arlington, Texas.


Point spread: Alabama opened as a 10-point favorite.

Odds Shark computer pick: Alabama 20.5, Wisconsin 20.4


Why the Wisconsin Badgers Can Cover the Spread

Wisconsin has a new head coach, former UW assistant Paul Chryst, but the song remains the same: Run the ball down opponents' throats, throw it deep occasionally and play sound defense.

Last year, the Badgers averaged 320 yards per game on the ground and the defense ranked fourth in the nation. This year, Wisconsin has to replace running back Melvin Gordon, who ran for 2,587 yards in 2014, but Corey Clement looks like the next man up.

Quarterback Joel Stave has his faults, but he can stretch defenses with his arm and has some experience with 28 collegiate starts under his belt.

If the Badgers can control the clock and avoid turnovers, they could keep this one close.


Why the Alabama Crimson Tide Can Cover the Spread

Alabama only returns 10 starters from a team that made it to the first-ever College Football Playoff last season, but the Tide do not rebuild—they reload.

Yes, there might be a question about the quarterback position at the moment, but there are no questions about the Alabama defense, which might be the best in the country. Over the last three seasons, Alabama has opened with neutral-site games against Michigan, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, winning those three games by an average score of 36-16.

If the Tide win this season opener by 20 points, they'll cover the spread.


Smart Pick

The Crimson Tide haven't won the national championship in three seasons, and after getting knocked off by Ohio State in the playoff last January, they are probably chomping at the bit to get this season started.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, has a new head coach, and while the systems are similar, there will also be an adjustment period.

The smart betting choice here is with the Crimson Tide.


Betting Trends

Alabama is 4-11-1 ATS in its last 16 games.

Alabama is 4-1 SU and ATS in its last five games vs. the Big Ten.

Wisconsin is 1-3 SU and ATS in its last four games vs. the SEC.


All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark, all quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates, and get the free odds tracker app.

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Study Finds Which College Football Fanbases Have the Worst Grammar

Seeing a college sports fan make a grammar mistake in a comment section is so much more fun than seeing a professional sports fan make the same error.

Why? Not only does the grammar mistake make the team's fanbase look bad, but it also reflects poorly on the school. That double whammy gives rival fans plenty to laugh at.

With the 2015-16 college football season just days away, an automated proofreading company called Grammarly did some research to figure out which college football fanbase—of the teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll—had the worst grammar. Grammarly went through the SB Nation page for each team and evaluated 100 comments to get data.

Here are the results for the best and worst grammar among college football fanbases:

There doesn't appear to be much of a connection between grammar and a team's success or grammar and conference affiliation. However, this list does add yet another chapter to the Iron Bowl.

Click the links to see which NFL (here) and MLB (here) fanbases have the worst grammar.

[Wall Street Journal, h/t USA Today's FTW]

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DFS College Football 2015: Beginner Strategy Guide and DFS Advice

The advent of fantasy football has personalized the NFL for millions of people.

Each Sunday, hordes of people gather in bars, at each other's houses, on couches, or even in man caves to intently watch their fantasy selections perform on television. Interest in the sport has seemingly increased even further with this virtual-meets-real-life activity.

But while NFL fantasy football is exceptionally popular, what about college fantasy football?

DraftKings has provided an opportunity for fans to play daily fantasy college football—with the potential to win money. The College Football Training Camp is a program geared toward assisting newbies in the art of fantasy football at the collegiate level. 

This piece will explain the rules via a four-step process—which can be found in its entirety here


Step 1: Understanding How it Works

There are inherent (and obvious) similarities between playing daily fantasy NFL and daily fantasy college football. Like the NFL, college football rosters feature nine players. The main difference is that daily fantasy college football players are gifted a second quarterback.

This surely creates a high-scoring element to the contests—in addition to making the actual gameplay much more exciting. The salary cap—identical to the NFL play—is $50,000. 

One needs to be aware of trends when featuring players from various college programs. Not only are there usually more points scored per game compared to the NFL, but there's a general idea of when a team will put up a ton of points against a lower-level opponent. 

As is the case with any endeavor, taking the time to prepare and do thorough research will only aid in one's potential winnings. This includes exhausting any and all resources pertaining to the subject matter—including the point spreads and odds from Las Vegas on any given day. 

The more well-versed players are in personnel and team information, the better they'll likely perform. 


Step 2: The Scoring System

It goes without saying, but a quarterback in a pass-happy offense will likely rack up a ton of points.

On the DraftKings points system, 100 yards passing is equivalent to a passing touchdown. A passing touchdown itself is worth four points. This bodes well for options such as Washington State quarterback Luke Falk or Baylor signal-caller Seth Russell.  

One can rack points with a strong rushing attack. One point is given for every 10 yards rushing. A rushing touchdown will give the owner six points. It would behoove any owner to target a player projected to receive the vast majority of his team's carries.

UCLA running back Paul Perkins, Utah rusher Devontae Booker and LSU workhorse Leonard Fournette all fit the bill in this capacity. 

The best-case scenario for any owner is to find a true dual-threat quarterback. A signal-caller with the ability to throw for 250-plus yards and also rush for at least 80 yards is a rare commodity—and a valuable one. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is an obvious fit for this description, as are J.T. Barrett, Vernon Adams, Dak Prescott, and Justin Thomas. 

There is a disclaimer, however. Each individual team situation needs to be studied. Will a quarterback's team be involved in a number of blowout victories? If so, there's a decent chance that said signal-caller will be lifted from the game before its conclusion. This, in theory, will equate to leaving points on the table. 

Additionally, selecting a signal-caller from a two-quarterback system is understandably a bit of a dicey situation. 

From a receiver standpoint, targeting a possession receiver (no pun intended) is smart. The more opportunities a pass-catcher gets, the more catches the receiver theoretically will grab. A touchdown reception is worth six points.

Selecting a running back with the capability to catch the ball out of the backfield is also worth exploring for a higher point total. 

Bonuses occur for incredibly high point totals. Players will receive an extra three points for accruing a passing total of over 300 yards, a rushing mark of over 100 yards or at least 100 receiving yards. 

When attempting to reach these totals, conventional wisdom suggests looking at the opposition of the team the player is facing. For instance, Oregon running back Royce Freeman vs. Eastern Washington on Sept. 5 appears to be a tasty matchup. 


Step 3: Player Cards are Your Friends

DraftKings provides a wonderful tool for helping you create your weekly lineup: player cards, which are essentially quick statistical breakdowns of any athlete. 

Each card provides totals for home and away games. This can be found on the "at a glance" tab. One needs to be cognizant of these totals. It isn't a given that a player will replicate the season averages in every single game. Much of his production will be determined by the opponent during that specific week. 

The "game log" tab is a more effective barometer when trying to determine how well a selection will do. By researching the opponents and their records, you can ascertain how well a player will do against top competition and also versus lower-level teams. 

For instance, a running back such as Derrick Henry will likely put up big numbers in nonconference play. Once Henry and the Crimson Tide enter the SEC schedule, those statistical outputs will probably drop off a bit. 

It's also an efficient way of looking at season trends. Does your running back routinely catch three-to-four catches a game? Will your quarterback rush for at least 50 yards? As previously mentioned, the more research you do, the better your potential gameplay will be. 


Step 4: Different Lineups for Different Competitions

DraftKings offers two types of cash-based competitions: cash games and tournaments. 

Cash games involve smaller amounts of people competing against one another. A larger chunk of people win money, but the winnings aren't as lucrative when compared to tournaments. 

These head-to-head or three-person contests require an elite player at either the quarterback position or the running back spot. Signal-callers putting up big numbers are not often replicated by any other position within the lineup. 

In terms of wide receivers, seek consistency over potential. A player consistently catching six or seven passes is likely a better option compared to a high-upside receiver catching multiple touchdowns once in a seven-game span.  

The second quarterback is the true wild card. You don't need to break the bank and go after two highly expensive options. Look at the competition each option will be facing for that specific week. A mid-level quarterback may be facing a favorable matchup. 

In essence, it wouldn't be wise to spend virtually all of your money on two elite quarterbacks and one stud running back. Balance needs to exist within your roster. 

Tournaments involve a much bigger pool of competitors. As such, you can be more creative and daring with your personnel choices. In other words, try to exploit the "boom" potential with any player. 

While goal-line backs only get a handful of carries a game, they could be attractive fantasy options within the tournament setup. Touchdowns are pure gold—and the price for a specialist shouldn't be too high. 


The Most Important Thing

Have fun!

This is an enjoyable activity bonding people of all ages and backgrounds. Don't get too upset if you don't start off super-successfully. There's a trial-and-error period through which all rookie fantasy players go. 


Head to DraftKings and sign up for daily fantasy college football today! From there you can participate in contests with big cash prizes! 

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Ohio State QB Competition Bringing J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones Closer Together

COLUMBUS, Ohio — If Tyvis Powell carried a bias when it came to Ohio State's quarterback battle, it would be tough to blame him.

After all, it's been well documented that Powell shares an apartment with one of the competition's participants, Cardale Jones. 

From their playful Twitter beefs to their "father-son" relationship—which one is which remains unclear—the Buckeyes safety and national champion quarterback have enjoyed a burgeoning bromance that's developed under the watch of the college football world ever since the two played key roles in OSU's run through the College Football Playoff last January.

If Powell was personally pulling for his friend, classmate, fellow Northeast Ohio native and, yes, roommate to reclaim his starting job in what's been an unprecedented quarterback competition alongside reigning National Freshman of the Year, J.T. Barrett, it would be expected.

But lately, there's been more than just one signal-caller occupying the Powell-Jones residence.

"The last couple of days, I've actually had the luxury of kicking it with J.T. and Cardale," Powell said on Monday. "My apartment has been the hangout spot for the two."

A hangout spot for the two players taking part in college football's most talked-about position battle, where one man will take over the offense of the nation's unanimous preseason No. 1 and the other will likely be relegated back to the bench?

They know they don't need to do that, right?

There's been plenty of talk about the relationship between the Buckeyes quarterbacks for the past nine months, after Barrett's fractured ankle in last season's regular finale led to Jones taking the reins of the OSU offense on the eve of the Big Ten Championship Game and the Buckeyes' subsequent appearance in the College Football Playoff. Most of it, however, could have easily been dismissed as coachspeak, a way for Urban Meyer to paint an inherently awkward situation as anything but that.

"It's one of the most refreshing competitions I've ever witnessed," Meyer said midway through Ohio State's fall camp. "They encourage each other, they push each other. It's unique. I think it's very unique.

"This one is very genuine."

The actions of the two quarterbacks indicate as much.

Just six days remain until the Buckeyes kick off their national championship defense on Monday night against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, and Meyer has yet to declare whether Jones or Barrett will be his starter. The fourth-year Ohio State head coach said he thinks he'll have a good idea who his QB1 will be come Wednesday, although, as always, the situation seems fluid.

One would imagine that could lead to some uncomfortableness between Barrett and Jones as the clock runs down on their competition and both of their immediate—and possibly long-term—futures hang in the balance.

But rather than avoiding one another, the Buckeyes' top two quarterbacks have only continued to further their friendship off the field, attending a local high school football game together during the final free weekend of their offseason.

The duo have also spent plenty of time lately playing the new Madden 16 video game together at Jones and Powell's apartment. That, however, could also be viewed more as an extension of their ongoing competition than furthered development of their friendship.

"It goes down every day," Powell said of the Xbox battles between Jones and Barrett. "For a long time, Cardale was the king. Nobody could beat Cardale. But toward the end of a couple of months ago, J.T. has had Cardale's card."

It'd be a stretch of Bikram Yoga proportions to read anything into what the outcomes of those recent Madden matches mean for the Ohio State quarterback competition. After all, it's just a video game, although perhaps Barrett's ability to beat someone as talented as Jones on the joysticks is worth noting.

But perhaps what's most interesting about the recent series of showdowns between Barrett and Jones is the way their preferred playing styles in virtual reality mirror their real-life selves. According to Powell, Barrett will play with any team in the NFL game, relying on his ability to match opposing defenses with appropriate audibles, just as he did while leading the Buckeyes to an 11-1 regular-season record a year ago.

"When I would play J.T., what he would do is pay attention to the defense that I would come out in and he would switch the whole play up," Powell said. "So I'm like, 'See, this why I don't like to play the quarterbacks man, 'cause y'all be cheating 'cause y'all know all that stuff.'"

As for Jones, who often used his cannon-like arm to hook up downfield with deep threat Devin Smith last winter? It shouldn't come as a surprise that he favors playing with the Detroit Lions.

"He's a cheater and he likes to throw it up to Calvin Johnson because he's 6'5"," Powell said. "Nobody can stop him."

With the start of their season now just mere days away, video games will soon presumably be forced to take a backseat in favor of real-life opponents and, for one quarterback, the real-life reality of being a backup after enjoying so much success a season ago. No matter how Meyer or anyone else spins it, the situation won't be ideal for at least one player.

"I think anybody in America would be crushed if they found out they're not going to be the starting quarterback," Powell said.

But in what's been an atypical quarterback competition from the very start, don't count on the response from the odd man out between Barrett and Jones to be bitter. In a way, they've been through this before, with the outcome placing them in the very predicament they currently find themselves as college football's defending national champions.

"Last year, when Braxton [Miller] went down, they were both battling for the No. 1 position and they still remained great friends. I know for a fact Cardale was a little crushed, but they still remained great friends and it didn't alter their relationship in any way," Powell said. "Now that it is what it is this year, I don't think it's going to change."

And at the very least, there will always be some sort of rematch at Jones and Powell's apartment waiting for the two of them.


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Andrew Butcher Arrested: Latest Details, Mugshot and More on Tennessee DE

Freshman defensive end Andrew Butcher came to the University of Tennessee with plenty of fanfare behind him, but the enthusiasm has been tempered as the 18-year-old was arrested early Sunday morning.

Continue for updates.

Butcher Charged With Public Intoxication, Additional Violations Tuesday, Sept. 1

According to, Butcher was arrested Sunday after allegedly "running around" on Interstate 40 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The Alpharetta, Georgia, native was subsequently charged with public intoxication, underage possession of alcoholic beverages and controlled access roadway violations after telling police he had been drinking.

KNS Watchful Eye provided a look at Butcher's mugshot following his arrest:

Per Don Jacobs of the Knoxville News Sentinel, Butcher was ultimately released from jail on bond, and he is set to appear in court Sept. 10, which is five days after the Vols open the season against Bowling Green and two days prior to their clash with Oklahoma.

Butcher was a 4-star recruit, according to 247sports, but his status for the 2015 season was already in question. He has yet to practice with the Volunteers after undergoing knee surgery.

That made Butcher a redshirt candidate, although his status with the program is now unclear as head coach Butch Jones must review his situation.

Jones' ultimate decision isn't likely to have much of an impact on what Tennessee does in 2015, but it could affect the Vols' defensive talent moving forward.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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USC vs. Arkansas State: Complete Game Preview

No. 8 USC opens the 2015 season against an annual Sun Belt Conference title contender: Arkansas State.

The Red Wolves finished 7-6 last season, winning fewer than eight games for the first time since 2010. However, they also retained head coach Blake Anderson for a second season, which means they'll maintain continuity for the first time since that same year.

Former head coaches Hugh Freeze (2011), Gus Malzahn (2012) and Bryan Harsin (2013) spent one year apiece in Jonesboro before moving to Ole Miss, Auburn and Boise State, respectively. All three have played in BCS/College Football Playoff bowl games since leaving.

Last year, Arkansas State lost by 21 points at Miami and 15 points at Tennessee, which provides a good idea of what USC should expect. It is not a realistic threat to upset the Trojans, but Anderson's team plays uptempo, confident football and embraces road challenges.

If USC falls asleep at the wheel, who knows how close this could get?


Date: Saturday, September 5

Time: 11 p.m. ET (8 p.m. local)

Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum; Los Angeles, Calif.

TV: Pac-12 Network

Radio: ESPN Radio; EAB Sports Network

Line: USC -28, according to

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USC vs. Arkansas State: Complete Game Preview

No. 8 USC opens the 2015 season against an annual Sun Belt Conference title contender: Arkansas State. The Red Wolves finished 7-6 last season, winning fewer than eight games for the first time since 2010...

Begin Slideshow