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No National Basketball Association games scheduled.

4/17/2014 1:05 PM(et)
4/17/2014 3:45 PM(et)
4/17/2014 6:40 PM(et)
4/17/2014 7:05 PM(et)
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4/17/2014 1:08 PM(et)
 964 TWINS
4/17/2014 1:10 PM(et)
4/17/2014 2:05 PM(et)
 968 RAYS
4/17/2014 7:10 PM(et)
4/17/2014 8:10 PM(et)
4/17/2014 8:10 PM(et)
 974 TWINS
4/17/2014 7:10 PM(et)

No National Football League games scheduled.

No College FootballI-A games scheduled.

No College Basketball games scheduled.

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CFB - A look at the conferences

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - As the college football season moves into November, it's time to take a look at how each conference stacks up. Leading the way, like it does every season, is the SEC. The dominant league sports an 83% winning percentage, taking 24 of its 29 out-of-conference games with an ATS mark of 16-13.

Even though conference superpower LSU has not been able to run the table, the Tigers are still in prime position to reach the BCS Championship Game. All they need is one loss from either Ohio State and/or Boston College and they'll move into the top two. The rest of the league, by the way, is holding its own with six other clubs making the most recent AP Top 25 Poll.

My power rankings have the SEC as the number one conference in the land with a combined rating of 90.83. The Western Division has been the catalyst with an impressive 91.2 number, a figure that includes perennial doormats Mississippi State and Ole Miss. The other four teams in the West are all in my top 20.

The Pac-10 ranks second at 90.30. The league boasts three teams in the Jeff Frank Top 10 and is the only conference that has every club above the 80 mark, which is the benchmark number for an average team. (Any figure above 90 is above average, while anything over 100 is exceptional.) The Pac 10 is also the only league with two squads over 100 in Oregon and USC, and undefeated Arizona State makes the top 10 at 96.

The league has improved its out-of-conference record from last year moving up from 63% to 70.4%. However, that figure will likely tumble next season as the Pac-10 loses more talent than any of the six BCS conferences. USC, Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona will have revamped defenses, while Oregon will have to break in a new quarterback, It's important to remember this information because most teams in the league will be favored in the early non-conference portion of their schedules come 2008.

Sitting third is the Big 12, a league that has gained the most ground of any single conference from the preseason rankings. It began the year at 87.3 and now stands at 89.1, and the number one reason for the increase is the unbelievable season from Kansas. The Jayhawks have improved the most out of all 119 schools going from 82 to 96. They have also risen from 65th at the start of the year to a tie for 10th place.

It's interesting to note that the North Division is slightly ahead of the South, 89.3 to 88.9. What's even more impressive is the North has split its 16 games with the South at 8-8 after losing 13 of the 18 games played last season. The league, as a whole, has fared much better out-of-conference this year, winning 29 of its 39 lined games for a 74% winning percentage as opposed to 25 of 45 last season, which was good for just 56%.

The Big Ten is fourth at 88.5 - only 0.1 percentage point lower than the 88.6 it started with - and its 27-6 non-conference record is second best to the SEC. However, that figure is a bit deceiving as the schedule has been filled with tons of MAC teams as well as patsies from the other top leagues, such as Iowa State, Duke, Syracuse (twice) and Notre Dames (four times).

Ohio State is second in my most recent poll to West Virginia with a 103.5 rating after its dominating performance over Penn State. The Buckeyes haven't had the toughest of schedules this season, but have met every challenge. This Saturday they will host a Wisconsin team that has handled them fairly easily of late, taking four of the last six meetings along with three straight "W's" in Columbus.

The Big East comes next with its 87.6 composite number despite winning only 22 of 33 non-conference games. Connecticut has an early edge in the race for the conference championship with its 3-0 record, but the Huskies won't remain undefeated with road contests still left against Cincinnati and West Virginia.

Speaking of the Mountaineers, they have the week off before hosting Louisville next Thursday, a matchup in which they'll be favored by around 19 points. Rich Rodriguez's crew will then get a couple extra days rest before going to Cincinnati, its only remaining road game prior to Connecticut and Pittsburgh at home.

The 12 teams in the ACC put forth an 86.9 rating, but there is quite a discrepancy between the two divisions. The Atlantic, buoyed by the play of Boston College, is far and away the more impressive of the two with an 89.2 mark, as opposed to the 84.7 number of its counterpart, the Coastal Division.

The conference as a whole has improved from last season boasting a 9-8 SU record vs. BCS teams. Last year, the league had won just six of 21. The ATS non-conference mark is also much better at 17-19 opposed to the 19-28 record from a year ago.


The Mountain West Conference is head and shoulders above the other five leagues with an 80.9 rating. Nevertheless, the conference has not been much of a factor against the spread. Last season, the league went 21-12-1 ATS in non- conference games, but this year its fortunes have dipped well below the .500 mark at 12-17.

Conference USA is slightly ahead of the WAC at 74.7 to 74.5. However, the former is just 15-23 ATS in out-of-conference games while the latter is 12-12. Despite the WAC's decent ATS record, the league has failed miserably against the best the nation has to offer with its 0-14 SU record against BCS schools. Last year, the league recorded six wins in 20 games.

The MAC and Sun Belt bring up the rear at 71.2 and 66.9 respectively. The MAC, like the MWC, has disappointed its backers with a 21-24 ATS record in 45 non- conference games as opposed to last season's 24-13-1 mark. The league also has just nine SU wins in the 45 games.

The Sun Belt has enjoyed a much-improved season with huge wins over teams from the Big Ten and Big 12. The league has also gained tons of ground ATS with its 14-15 record in non-conference games as opposed to its 8-19 mark one season ago.


West Virginia maintains its hold at number one, but the Ohio State Buckeyes are coming on like gangbusters after their thrashing of Penn State. The new top 10 looks like this:

1) West Virginia, 106; 2) Ohio State, 103.5; 3) Oklahoma, 102; 4) Oregon, 101.5; 5) LSU, 101; 6) USC, 100; 7-T) Boston College and Missouri, 97.5; 9-T) Arizona State and Kansas, 96.

My overall record stands at 31-35-1 after a 3-2 week as I nailed my top two plays - Ball State and Wisconsin. I'll try to keep this good fortune rolling with a few more winners.


Get ready for a six-pack of dogs. The top play pits two 3-2 Pac 10 teams battling it out for fourth place in the conference. One team has lost two of its last three in league play, while the other is 3-0. The undefeated club defeated the other squad last year and only lost by eight points three years back when that team won the national championship. So tell me, why is one team favored by more than two touchdowns?

If you haven't guessed by now, I'm talking about USC and Oregon State. The Trojans are heavy favorites mainly due to the status of Yvenson Bernard. The Beavers' star running back had to leave last week's game with Stanford after injuring his left shoulder. OSU head coach Mike Riley described Benson's status as "doubtful" after the Stanford win. No worries, Bernard missed last year's game and Clinton Polk rushed for 100 yards on 22 carries.

Oregon State began the year very slowly, as Sean Canfield was completing more passes to the opposition rather than his own team. However, he has not thrown a pick the last two games and after starting out -10 in turnover differential the first five games, the Beavers were a +7 the last three.

USC lost as a 40-point favorite at home to Stanford and followed that up with a come-from-behind home win vs. Arizona. Throw out the Notre Dame game because the Irish are not really an FBS-quality school this year. The Trojans, who did not have an answer for Oregon last week, look more like a team in disarray rather than a top 15 squad.

Take Oregon State plus the points.

Vanderbilt travels to Gainesville this week to take on the defending national champion Gators. One thing to keep in mind for this game is how well the Commodores have played against Florida the last two years. In 2005, they took the Gators to double overtime on the road before falling 49-42 in a game that saw three Vandy turnovers lead to 21 Florida points.

Last year, the Commodores outgained the champs, 391-330, but lost 25-19 as the 17-point underdogs. If they can run the ball vs. Florida, look for another close game, especially since Tim Tebow is still not 100% healthy. Georgia sacked the quarterback six times last week and Vanderbilt has recorded 12 sacks the last two games. The Commodores have rushed for over 130 yards in each of their last six contests and should be able to control the clock against the Gators, who have allowed Georgia, Kentucky and LSU to outgain them in their last three affairs.

Take Vanderbilt plus the points.

If a team can cover eight straight on the road and 12 of its last 13, why not continue putting more money into the club? Of course I'm talking about Ball State. The Cardinals did it again last week, covering the number at Illinois, the fourth straight time they have won ATS against a Big Ten squad.

They take their show to Bloomington this week vs. Indiana. The Hoosiers have lost three straight games and are desperately trying for their sixth win to get them bowl-eligible. It could be this week, but it won't be easy. Ball State is playing the best ball of any team in the MAC and the Cards have already shown they can stay with any team from the Big Ten. They proved it last year by almost upsetting Michigan and dropping a one-point decision to Indiana.

Take Ball State plus the points.

Iowa State hosts Kansas State in a Big 12 North clash. The Wildcats, at 3-2, travel to Lincoln to take on Nebraska next week and even though the Cornhuskers are having a down year, one has to wonder how much the 'Cats are looking ahead as they have lost the last two years to Nebraska.

Kansas State is coming off a 51-13 score vs. Baylor, but has struggled on the road this season winning just one of three games. On the other side, Iowa State has played its best games at home in '07 defeating Iowa and coming oh- so-close vs. Oklahoma. The Cyclones actually outgained Missouri on the road last week and head coach Gene Chizik is well aware of the Wildcats' powerful offensive attack, since he was the defensive coordinator at Texas last year.

Take Iowa State plus the points.

The fifth contest has the top-ranked Buckeyes taking on unranked Wisconsin in Columbus. As mentioned earlier, the Badgers have owned this series of late taking three of the last four and four of the last six. They also have won three consecutive games in the Horseshoe.

P.J. Hill was hurt in the first quarter last week, but head coach Bret Bielema said he expects his star running back to play on Saturday as x-rays were negative. The Badgers will definitely need their workhorse back, but even if he is less than 100%, they should still be able to keep this one close.

Ohio State will be a little too passive for this game, especially after crushing Penn State the way it did on the road last week. Back home, look for the Buckeyes to relax the way they did vs. Michigan State. One problem, the Badgers are playing much better now than the Spartans were at that time.

Take Wisconsin plus the points.

Finally, Nick Saban gets to host his former team in a key SEC matchup in Tuscaloosa. This game has been circled on the Alabama calendar since Saban took the job, and the Crimson Tide will not disappoint. They blew away Tennessee, a team that had won three straight, in their last outing two weeks back, 41-17, piling up 510 yards on the Volunteers.

LSU, on the other hand, has not played like a number-three team the last month, struggling at home against Florida and Auburn, and losing on the road to Kentucky. The Tigers came into 'Bama two years ago ranked third in the country and favored by a field goal, but had to go to overtime to win by three, 16-13.

This contest should have a little more scoring, but the result will be a little different as the Tide roll away with the win.

Take Alabama plus the points.

A couple of other games that have to be mentioned include Boston College vs. Florida State and Illinois at Minnesota. The Eagles are coming off a spectacular win at Virginia Tech last Thursday night and come home to face Florida State. What's interesting about this one is that the number-two ranked team in the nation is not even favored by a touchdown over an unranked club.

In the other game, there is nothing that suggests a Minnesota victory over Illinois except the fact that I pegged the Golden Gophers to upset the Illini prior to the 2007 season. Just to let all my readers know, I am 9-0 in predicting SU wins and losses for Ron Zook's club this year, so if you want to throw a few bucks on a home dog, try the Gophers. They have won the last four home meetings and have taken six of the last seven overall.

10/30/2007 11:10:21 AM