CFB Rivalry Matchups, NFL Shootouts, UFC 266: Weekend Best Bets
This is a very busy weekend in the sports world and anyone who has listened to me long enough on GameNight or Sports Bash Saturday or other shows on 973 ESPN FM knows how much I love Football and MMA. This weekend features some big College Football games and UFC 266 features two championship belts on the line. So let's breakdown some of the matchups this weekend and don't forget you can catch all the action plus make your wagers at the Fan Duel Sportsbook right off the boardwalk inside Bally's Atlantic City!
(All betting odds featured here are from Fan Duel Sportsbook and betting lines are what is available in New Jersey as of 6pm EST on Friday afternoon. Gambling Problem? Call 1800-GAMBLER)
College Football Week 4
-2021 College Football On Air ATS Picks: 17-7
*Notre Dame vs Wisconsin (Neutral Site)
This matchup opened as Pick-em on the spread and then the money started coming in so the oddsmakers are hedging their bets to protect their losses, so don't ready too much into what the sportsbooks are trying to tell you. What many people don't know is that Wisconsin is not a real home team with Soldier Field playing host for this matchup of midwest schools. I expect the crowd to be evenly split between Badgers and Fighting irish Fans. Both teams scored over 30 points versus non-Power Five schools (Toledoa and Eastern Michigan) so I don't have great faith in these offenses to go big in this matchup. Wisconsin is more physical team than who Notre Dame faced last week (Purdue) but on the flipside Wisconsin struggled against Penn State to start the year.
Best Bets: Notre Dame +5.5 or Game Total UNDER 44.5 - This is what some of the experts call a "Smelly Game" with unusual odds that seems like underwhelming value for a game with a big national platform this weekend. I think this will be a low scoring game and Wisconsin still has a lot to prove for me to believe they are legitimate contenders in the Big Ten this season. I have more faith in Notre Dame's team at this point of the season and that's not saying much considering the Fighting Irish opponents combined win-loss record is 3-6 entering College Football Week Four.
*Boise State at Utah State
This Boise State team is not the same Football team we are use to seeing over the last 20 years now that Bryan Harsin left to take the Auburn job and Andy Avalos has the Broncos team playing underwhelming football this season. Meanwhile Utah State is 3-0 this year and won two games as underdogs on the road at Washington State and Air Force.
Best Bets: Utah State +9.5 or Utah State Moneyline +265 - Utah State's offense is averaging 41 Points per game this season and going against a Boise State Defense that is allowing 412.3 Total Yards per game, I have no faith in the Bronocs to slow down the Aggies.
*SMU at TCU
One of the most underrated rivalries in College Football, the 100th Battle for the Iron Skillet features a showdown of traditional Christian Institutions in the Dallas-Forth Worth area. They didn't play last year because of COVID-19 restrictions that confused even hardcore College Football fans. This year's showdown features the leader Nationally in Touchdown passes, SMU Quarterback Tanner Mordecai has thrown 16 TDs and he's going against a TCU Defense that allowed 309 Passing Yards to Cal's QB Chase Garbers last weekend.
Best Bet: Southern Methodist University +9.5 - Texas Christian University Head Coach Gary Patterson has four non-conference home losses in 21 seasons and two have been to SMU. I expect SMU to put up points on a TCU Defense that does not have the level of marquis talent of pass years under Patterson. TCU leads all-time series 51–41–7
*Texas A&M vs Arkansas (Neutral Site)
Another big game this weekend not on campus, this time former Southwest Conference Rivals are playing at Arlington, TX in a top 25 matchup. Texas A&M and Arkansas were founding members of the Southwest Conference in 1914 and the schools have a long history with Arkansas leading the all-time series 41–33–3 but it's Texas A&M who has won nine straight games in this rivalry. Both teams are starting Sophomore Quarterbacks so they will lean on their running game; Arkansas is averaging 282.3 Rushing Yards per game while Texas A&M features one of the best Running Backs in college football, Isaiah Spiller.
Best Bets: Arkansas +4.5 or Arkansas Moneyline +180 - Arkansas is 11-3 Against The Spread in their last 14 games as underdogs and have won four games outright under Head Coach Sam Pittman. Texas A&M defense is allowing 162 Rushing Yards per game in their last three games against a mediocre schedule. I think the Aggies defense is going to be in trouble just like the Texas Longhorns who allowed 333 Rush Yards against Arkansas.
*Clemson at NC State
This is the first true road game of season for Clemson, who has struggled to score against Georgia Tech last weekend and against Georgia two weeks ago. Clemson scored a total of 17 points total against the football teams from the state of Georgia. Now they have to go on the road and take on a North Carolina State team averaging 33.3 Points per game with Quarterback Devin Leary and the Wolfpack Football team that is 5-2 with Leary playing Quarterback over the last two seasons. NC State Offense is averaging 455.7 Total Yards per game with a balanced attack and last weekend Clemson's Defense allowed 298 Total Yards to a below average Georgia Tech Offense
Best Bet: NC State +10.5 - NC State is 5-5 Against The Spread when they have played Top Ten ranked teams under Head Coach Dave Doeren and this game is being played Carter-Finley Stadium, so I expect the Wolfpack fans to impact this game. Clemson is a team with a lot of talent but they lack an identity and that is a bad combination for a team going into their first real road game of the season.
*Nebraska at Michigan State
Yes Nebraska has a 2-2 record this season but they have piled up wins against Fordham and Buffalo while their loss are on the road at Illinois and at Oklahoma. Now they have to travel to East Lansing to play a Michigan State team that ranks third in the Big Ten and 11th in the nation with 263.7 yards rushing per game; Nebraska's Defense allowed 194 Rush yards to Oklahoma last week and 167 Rush Yards at Illinois earlier this year. Michigan State Head Coach Mel Tucker has done a better job rebuilding the Spartans Football Program compared to what Scott Frost has done with the Cornhuskers so far.
Best Bets: Michigan State -4.5 or UNDER 52.5 - Both these teams have success running the ball and both average over 200 Rushing Yards per game, so I expect this game to not be a high scoring showcase. Nebraska has hit the UNDER in their two biggest matchups this season but they also lost both of those games while Michigan State has beaten the two best teams on their schedule on the road this year. I believe in what Mel Tucker is doing in East Lansing and I don't think Nebraska has what it takes to win this game.
*West Virginia at Oklahoma
Despite playing at home in both games, Oklahoma has won two ugly games against lesser talented teams: both of their wins over Tulane and Nebraska have been by single digit points and now the Sooners begin their Big 12 Conference schedule welcoming WVU to Norman, Oklahoma. West Virginia has one of the best Running Backs in the conference and almost no one is talking about him: Leddie Brown leads the Big 12 with six total touchdowns and he is averaging 119 Total Yards from Scrimmage per game this year. WVU Defense will also present a unique challenge for Oklahoma's Offense: The Mountaineers have the number one ranked Red Zone Defense among all FBS schools and their defense has the fourth most in tackles for loss in the nation.
Best Bet: West Virginia +17.5 - Interesting contrast here for those placing bets - Oklahoma is 1-2 Against the Spread this season while West Virginia is 2-1 ATS this year. Considering how inconsistent Oklahoma's star Quarterback Spencer Rattler has played this year combined with how they struggled to beat inferior teams this year, I don't see how West Virginia cannot replicate the success of Tulane and Nebraska. I still think Oklahoma wins the game, but a 26-17 or 30-20 final score makes a lot more sense than that overkill spread set by the odds makers.
NFL Week 3
-2021 NFL ATS On Air Picks: 16-9
*Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions
So much attention this season has been on the numerous injuries on the Ravens Offense but too many people are overlooking how porous their defense has been. After two weeks, Baltimore's Defense is allowing 34 Points Per Game and 389 Passing Yards Allowed per game, two statistics that place them among the worst in the NFL right now. Now they face a Detroit Lions team that is averaging 25 Points per game but also has a defense allowing 38 Points per game.
Best Bet: OVER 50.5 - Neither of these teams play quality NFL Defense so I expect this game to be a 35-20 type of Ravens win on Sunday, a game in which both teams score early on but the Ravens pulls away at the end. If you like Offense or need a big day in Fantasy Football, this game is for you!
*Miami Dolphins at Las Vegas Raiders
To me, this game is less about the Raiders than it is about the Dolphins. With their starting Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, Miami scored 17 Points in their first game of the season and without they scored ZERO points in the second game of the season. By every statistical measure, the Dolphins have the worst Offense in the NFL and now they travel to Las Vegas to play a very confident Raiders team with a 2-0 record on the season.
Best Bet: Raiders -3.5 - I understand that over 70 percent of the public bets are coming in for the Raiders and that may scare away some people, but until the Dolphins show they can actually score more than 20 points this season then I refuse to believe they are anything more than overhyped. The Raiders have proven in their first two weeks they can win football games and they can score, averaging 29.5 Points Per game.
*Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams
Two of the NFC Favorites to reach the Super Bowl this season, this showdown of powerhouse teams is one of the highlights of NFL Week 3. While the Rams Defense has looked very good this season, they did play an underwhelming Colts team and a less talented Bears team, both opponents have a combined record of 1-3 this year. On the flip side, the Bucs have one of the best offenses in the NFL yet their defense has not dominated at all this season allowing 27 Points Per Game.
Best Bet: OVER 55.5 - If both these teams don't each score at least 30 Points, I would be shocked! This is going to be a shootout with both Quarterbacks throwing touchdowns and making many Fantasy Football owners happy.
(You can hear this game apart of the Triple Header of NFL Action this Sunday on 973 ESPN FM starting with the Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs coverage starting at 1230pm then we will join the Bucs vs Chargers game in progress followed by Sunday Night Football at 8pm: Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers)
2021 UFC Picks On Air Picks: 49-24
UFC 266 in Las Vegas Saturday Night
*The two title fights feature very different matchups as part of a fight card that promises to have many electric fights!
-Alexander Volkanovski is the current UFC Featherweight Champion who is undefeated inside the UFC Octagon and he has not lost a Mixed Martial Arts fight since May 2013. He faces off with the number two ranked 145 Pound Fighter in the organization Brian Ortega. With a UFC record of 7-1-1 and a known UFC Fan favorite, Ortega previous fought for the Welterweight belt back in 2018 but lost to Max Holloway by Technical Knockout. Volkanovski and Ortega have been the coaches on the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter where bad blood began to grow between the two fighters as the Champ claims that Ortega showed up late for responsibilities with the show while both come from very different cultural backgrounds. Although he was born in Australia, Volkanovski's father is from Yugoslavia and his mother is from Greece; Alexander grew practicing Greco-Roman Wrestling and later learned Muay Thai before starting his MMA career. Meanwhile Ortega is a Mexican-American who was born in California to Mexican immigrants and he grew up in poverty but his parents wanted him to learn discipline so he started training Muay Thai Kickboxing at an early age before his teenage years when he began training Brazilain Jiu-Jitsu at the famous Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy.
-The second title fight features one of the best female fighters on the planet: Valentina Shevchenko is one of the most talented fighters in the UFC and she has defended her Women's Flyweight Belt five straight time after winning the belt in December 2018. Shevchenko is an elite striker who is also a very accomplished Kickboxer and Muay Thai Fighter with numerous championships won outside of MMA. Her opponent is Lauren Murphy, winner of five straight fights and won seven of her last nine fights in the UFC. Murphy started her professional MMA career back in 2010 and she won the Invicta FC Bantamweight Championship back in 2013 before making the jump to the big leagues in the UFC. Murphy is a Jack-of-all-Trades fighter who is an underrated athlete and gets overlooked often by opponents and fans alike.
-The featured fights on the card includes the return of Nick Diaz (former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion) return after a hiatus for a rematch 17 years in the making again Robbie Lawler (former UFC Welterweight Champion). Heavyweight Contenders Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik face off in a matchup featuring a combined 21 total knockout win between the two fighters. Former UFC Women's Strawweight Champion Jéssica Andrade will face the number five ranked fighter at Women's Flyweight Cynthia Calvillo in a fight that will decide if either will get a chance to be next in line to fight for the 125 pound title.
UFC 266 Best Bets:
*Three-leg Parlay: Alexander Volkanovski+Valentina Shevchenko+Jessica Andrade Moneylines +128 value
*Two-leg parlay: Valentina Shevchenko vs Lauren Murphy+Curtis Blaydes vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik: WILL THE FIGHT GO THE DISTANCE? NO for both +100 value
*Two-leg parlay: Dan Hooker+Chris Daukaus Moneylines +152