Sunday College Football Betting Preview
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 9/4/2009
Game: No. 10 Mississippi at Memphis
3:30 p.m. ESPN
Ole Miss enters the season as 17-point favorites against Memphis and the total has been set at 54.5
It has been all Ole Miss recently in this series with the Rebels winning eight of 10 dating back to 1995. This game will also mark the 10th time out of the past 11 games where they have played the role of the favorites. The over is 4-2-1 in recent meetings between Ole Miss and Memphis.
Who can we trust?
Football and basketball at Memphis have next to nothing in common. The football team coasts season to season, occasionally posting enough wins to reach a bowl game that it usually loses. Marquee wins are not a staple of this program.
Then there is Ole Miss. Everybody remembers the Rebels historic upset at Florida in the swamp as 23-point underdogs last season. What most people forget is what happened the week before and the week after that. Ole Miss lost straight up at home against Vanderbilt before the Florida upset and at home against South Carolina the week after the upset. But the Jekyll and Hyde-type team turned its face again with a 31-13 thrashing at LSU in late November and then a 47-34 win over a hot Texas Tech team in the Cotton Bowl.
Since 2002 these two teams have met to open the season in early September. In four of those contests the games came down to the wire. From 2003-07 the games were decided by an average of five points. Last season (Ole Miss, 41-24) and in 2002 (Ole Miss, 38-16) were the lone exceptions. Both those years the point spreads were not exactly expecting a close game as the Rebels were favored by 9.5 points each time. The point spread has generally been spot on in this series and the 17 points Ole Miss is laying this season is by far the most in the recent history of this series.
While Memphis is 4-2 ATS in its last six meetings against Ole Miss, a more pertinent trend involves what Ole Miss has been able to do away from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. In the Rebels last eight games on the road or at a neutral site they are 7-1 ATS, including the previously mentioned program-changing wins against Florida, LSU and Texas Tech.
Houston we have progress
After being jettisoned out of Arkansas, Houston Nutt has turned Ole Miss around almost overnight. The results have been seen by Rebel fans and Rebel bettors alike. After posting dismal SU records of 4-8 and 3-9 in 2006 and 07, and ATS records of 5-4 and 6-5, respectively, the Rebels turned things around in a hurry last season going 9-4 SU and 9-3 ATS.
SEC vs. SEC
Players generally do not see opposing conference players until mid to late September but the Ole Miss offense will be running into some familiar faces when it lines up Sunday afternoon.
Already possessing one of the top defensive units in Conference USA, Memphis added transfers LB Jamon Hughes, LB Derrick Odom and S DeRon Furr. All three have one thing in common -- they are coming from SEC schools. Hughes played at Mississippi State, Odom at LSU and Furr at Auburn.
The line opened at 17 at most sportsbooks before falling to 16 a week before the game. But as the game approached the line climbed back to 17, and even 18 at some places. The total has stayed steady at 54.5.
Ole Miss QB Jevan Sneed
The 6-foot-3, 215 pound junior originally committed to Florida, then enrolled at Texas where he played one season and then last season he found himself at Ole Miss. It's funny how things worked out for all the parties involved. Tim Tebow has become a legend in Florida, Colt McCoy is perhaps the top passer in the country now at Texas and Snead finds himself on the cusp of stardom in Oxford, Mississippi. He passed for 2,762 yards last season and threw 26 touchdowns. He will be a game-changer this season and perhaps a Heisman contender if Ole Miss can take care of business in the SEC.
Memphis RB Curtis Steele
Las Vegas is expecting a shootout and for the Tigers to hold up their end of the bargain Steele, a former JUCO transfer and 1,223-yard rusher a year ago, needs to pile up the yards and help out the passing game. He averaged an impressive 5.6-yard per carry but his offensive line this year is suspect. A lot of the onus will fall on Steele this year and his quarterback, returning starter Arkelon Hall, could have a big game of Steele is gaining close to 5.6 yards a carry.
The weather could be a factor as scattered thunderstorms and plenty of rain is expected during the day at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Game: Colorado State at Colorado
Colorado enters the season-opener favored by 10 and the total in this rivalry game has been set at 54.
Since the Rocky Mountain Showdown began in 1893 between Colorado and Colorado State, it has been all Buffaloes, who own a 58-19-2 series record against their in-state rivals. Colorado State has held its own recently, winning four of the last 10 games.
Two teams, two directions
Colorado finished last season going down in flames, losing seven of its last nine with plenty of blowouts mixed in. There was no bowl game to speak of for the five-win Buffs. On the other side of the state, Colorado State was busy winning three of its last four to reach the New Mexico Bowl, which it also won, 40-35, over Fresno State.
Home sweet home
The Showdown has been played at a neutral site for most of the past two decades but this year it takes a break from INVESCO Field at Mile High (home of the Denver Broncos) and returns to Colorado's home field, Folsom Field.
The last time the game was played at Folsom, in 2004 and 2005, Colorado won both games but the Rams more than held their own, losing by just a field goal each game and covering the spread both times.
Staying on the Folsom Field thought, the Rams have been a solid bet on enemy soil. They are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games at Colorado. Overall the underdog has fared well in this series, going 10-3 ATS in the last 13 showdowns.
In terms of the total, the over has hit in nine out of 13 meetings between these two teams.
Colorado RB Darrell Scott
Coach Dan Hawkins' top recruit a year ago, Scott is poised to take over as the feature back in the Buffs backfield. A sophomore out of Tallahassee, Florida, Scott rushed for 339 yards on 88 carries last season when Rodney Stewart was receiving the bulk of the carries. With struggles in the passing game and with an offensive line that is the strength of the team, all eyes will be on Scott this season.
Colorado State WRs Rashaun Greer and Dion Morton
Quarterback Billy Farris is gone as is leading rusher Gartrell Johnson III. The progression of the offense will occur at a much faster pace if playmakers Greer and Morton step up and improve even expand on their numbers from last season.
Greer hauled in 63 passes for 1,114 yards and Morton was a quarterback's best friend in the red zone as he led the team with 10 touchdown receptions. Greer burst on the scene last season in his debut against Colorado with eight catches for 70 yards. Against the Buffs Morton caught four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.
No precipitation is expected and the temperature will be around 55 degrees.
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