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The Triple Option: College football Week 5 best picks and predictions

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So, something fun happened this week. I got a new car! A Toyota C-HR to be exact. I think it’s pretty cool looking. My boss called it an Autobot. Which of course, as a huge nerd, I instantly loved.

That said, there’s a lot of steps that come into play when buying a new car. And although the search for that vehicle is exciting, it sure can be rigorous. From determining your budget, and figuring out your personal or family needs. To test drives and negotiating the best price you can. It’s a lot.

Evaluating college football teams follows a lot of these same principles and can be just as rigorous. But when that bet hits on Saturday it feels an awful lot like gripping the wheel of your brand new rig and taking it for a rip on the highway for the first time. Pretty awesome.

So, who is the fancy new car on the college football lot? For me, that’s Auburn. The Tigers are 4-0 SU/ATS and already have two Top 25 wins, including one of the most impressive victories of the college football season thus far – a 27-21 comeback win over Oregon (who actually still looks like one heck of a football team) in their opening game.

Heading into this season, everyone knew about the Tigers talent on the defensive line, but was there a team to go around Derrick Brown and Co.? Well, nothing is newer and shinier than becoming the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Auburn since 1946. And that’s what exactly what Bo Nix has done.

After a bit of a rocky start in that Oregon game, Nix has been exactly what the Tigers have needed. He’s been efficient and poised when he’s had to be. Nix hasn’t thrown a pick since that first game, and has 645 yards passing with five touchdowns, while adding another 117 and a score on the ground.

He’s also been supported by a strong rushing attack headed by JaTarvious Whitlow, that ranks 22nd in the country in yards per attempt. And Saturday, they’ll go up against a Mississippi State team that is not what it once was on defense. For example: The Bulldogs ranks 81st in the country giving up 4.5 yards per carry.

On the other side, the Tigers have arguably the best defensive line in the country, that already has 11 and haven’t allowed more than 21 points in a game this season. The Bulldogs rely on their run game, but their offensive line is banged up and the Tigers allow just 3.1 yards per attempt. If Auburn can stuff the run (which they are very capable of), it could be a very long day for whomever is under center for Mississippi State.

So, here’s hoping the Tigers roll out like my new Autobot and get us an easy cover this week.

Pick: Auburn -9.5

VIRGINIA CAVALIERS AT NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (-13, 49 @ BETAMERICA)

This matchup between Virginia and Notre Dame is the low-key Game of the Week. Despite the loss in Athens last Saturday, the Irish proved they were worthy of their Top 10 ranking, while the Cavaliers come into this one undefeated, this will clearly be their toughest competition to date.

Notre Dame easily covered the 15.5-point spread against Georgia last week thanks to the defense doing a good job of containing Jake Fromm and Ian Book putting up some respectable numbers against a very strong Bulldogs defense.

But the Irish will have to go up against another strong defense in this one. Bronco Mendenhall’s unit ranks 14th in the country in total yards allowed and are particularly good at stuffing the run. The Cavs are allowing just 2.3 yards per carry this season, seventh best in the nation. But the secondary is almost as strong led by star corner Bryce Hall.

People may be doubting Virginia here after its uninspiring performance against Old Dominion last week. But that was about as textbook of a lookahead spot as there is.

The Cavs have another thing going for them in this one. And that is quarterback Bryce Perkins. For my money, he is the best signal caller in the ACC not named Trevor Lawrence. He is a true dual-threat quarterback with 843 yards passing and six touchdowns on a 65 percent completion rate and also leads the Cavs in rushing with 183 yards and another two scores.

This is the biggest game for the Cavaliers in years and they’re going to be jacked to be playing in South Bend. I don’t expect Virginia to win, but if Perkins can limit the turnovers this defense is good enough to keep this one within the number. Plus, this is a bit of a letdown spot for the Irish after that close lose to Georgia.

Pick: Virginia +13

TEXAS A&M AGGIES AT ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS (+23.5, 61 @ BETAMERICA)

It’s fair to have expected a little more from Texas A&M this season. Kellen Mond has some big numbers, but he and the Aggies haven’t performed as well as fans would have hoped in their two biggest games against Clemson and last week against Auburn.

That said, the Aggies will be hungry for a win in Saturday’s Southwest Classic at AT&T Stadium against rival Arkansas. And you can expect A&M to take out some frustrations in this one.

Mond has put up 1,082 yards through the first four games and now he gets to go up against a Razorbacks defense that allowed San Jose State’s Josh Love to throw for over 400 yards in last week’s shocking 31-24 home loss to the Spartans. Yes, an SEC team lost outright at home as 20-point faves to a San Jose State team that got blown out by Tulsa. No offense to the Golden Hurricane, it’s just a really bad look for the SEC.

Arkansas quarterback Nick Starkel goes up against his former team and he’s got a good arm, but the Hogs offensive line is shaky at best, and he is prone to making bed decisions under pressure. To make things tougher, the Aggies secondary is probably the best part of their defense, allowing just 165 yards per game through the air.

Despite the issues in big games, the Aggies are still 3-1 ATS this season and have done well covering large spreads. But whether or not A&M can cover this number, all comes down to Mond. He an huck it with the best of ‘em and if he has a good game the Aggies get the job done against what is a mess of a Razorbacks team.

Pick: Texas A&M -23.5

Last week: 2-1
Season to date: 6-5-1

VanVleet picks up where he left off in the playoffs, and the NBA bets you need to make Tuesday

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Opening day of the 2019-20 NBA season is here with the defending champion Toronto Raptors hosting the New Orleans Pelicans. The late matchup pairs the top two choices to win it all, according to the NBA betting odds, with the Los Angeles Lakers taking on the new-look Los Angeles Clippers. 

If you’re betting on the NBA openers, we have the best bets and prop predictions for Tuesday’s two games.

BIG CHANGES IN THE BIG EASY

The Pelicans sport one of the most overhauled rosters in the NBA after trading Anthony Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and draft picks. New Orleans then selected Zion Williamson first overall in the draft, but unfortunately, his debut will have to wait as he is expected to miss the first couple of weeks with a knee injury. Some more big pickups include Derrick Favors and J.J. Redick.

Although Redick is playing for a new squad this year, while with Philadelphia he had success versus the Raptors in the playoffs, shooting 43.9 percent from the field, 41 percent from beyond the arc, and scored 15 or more points in four of those seven postseason games. With an increased role on the Pelicans and some good shooting numbers, back Over his points total of 16.5 on PointsBet.

NO HANGOVER HERE

The Raptors kick their season off playing a double-header with the first game at home to the Pelicans. The 2018-2019 season saw the Raptors set franchise records in points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game, and 3-point shots made. A regression is expected with Toronto losing both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green but still finds itself a 7-point favorite in the season opener.

With the Championship banner being hoisted, rings handed out, and the Raptors looking to start the schedule strong, look for them to take care of business and cover at home as 7-point favorites.

RIGHT SAID FRED

With Toronto PG Kyle Lowry undergoing surgery on his finger in the offseason, don’t be surprised to see big numbers out of Fred VanVleet in the first few games of the schedule.

Last season, VanVleet averaged 27.5 minutes with 11 points, 4.8 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game. Although this is a revamped Pelicans roster with many new faces, New Orleans struggled to defend opposing point guards last year, allowing 23.3 points per game and the league’s highest assists per game average at 9.1 to that position. If he carries over his postseason play, VanVleet will be a major player and offensive contributor for the defending champs. Take Over his assists total of 4.5.

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES

The Lakers start their second season with LeBron James at the helm but has more support behind him with guys like Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, and Danny Green. The Clippers were also busy in the offseason, adding MVP talents in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

George will not be playing in the opening game (out until November while recovering from shoulder surgery), which plays a major role in shaping this spread, which sees the Purple and Gold as short “home” favorites in the war for the Staples Center.

LeBron and the Lakers have a lot to prove after a terrible finish to 2018-19 and we like them to cover as 2.5-points favorites Tuesday.

DOWN TO DEFENSE

With both Leonard and Patrick Beverly on the floor, the Clippers will be a difficult team to score on. With George out of action and this L.A. offense not firing on all cylinders, the Clippers certainly have the defense to keep things close.

The Lakers have plenty of scoring options but miss out on the services of Kyle Kuzma (18.7 ppg in 2018-19), who will be sitting out in the opening game with a foot injury. While it’s Game 1 of an 82-game season, this Los Angeles rivalry could have playoff intensity right out of the gate. We like a lower-scoring game and the Under 225.5 points Tuesday night. 

Lakers vs Clippers NBA betting picks and predictions: Davis will dominate down low on opening night

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The 2019-2020 NBA season starts off with a bang tonight as two revamped teams with some of the best players in the world take to the court in Los Angeles as the Lakers face the Clippers. 

Expectations are sky-high for both teams after the Lakers added Anthony Davis as a running mate for Lebron James, while the Clippers are led by last year’s NBA Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard. These rivals will be highly motivated to begin the season with a win and stake an early claim as the best team in the league.

We break down the odds for the Battle of L.A. and give you five of our best bets and predictions.

QUICK HITTER

The biggest move the Lakers made in the offseason was obviously the addition of Anthony Davis. But he’s not the only new face with Danny Green, Quinn Cook, Dwight Howard, and Avery Bradley all in line to receive significant minutes in their rotation.

The Clippers have also gone through a makeover adding Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Maurice Harkless. While George won’t play until at least mid-November after undergoing shoulder surgery, the other two should log major minutes.

Playing together in practice and the preseason is no substitute for the actual defensive intensity of an NBA game. So expect both offenses to take some time to gell and back the Under on the 1Q total.

PICK: First Quarter Under 58 (-115)

FIRST HALF BET

The first quarter might see from offensive jitters from both teams but they should begin to settle down after 12 minutes. Lebron James, in particular, should have little problem facilitating the offense while the underrated additions of Green and Cook should improve their three-point efficiency which was among the worst in the league last year.

On defense, they match up well with the Clippers with Lebron able to switch onto Leonard while Bradley can give Lou Williams fits. Rajon Rondo is listed as questionable with a calf injury but if he’s good to go that will be yet another Lakers defender that can pressure opposing ball-handlers.

The Lakers also have a height advantage which should help them win the battle on the boards and get more second chances. Bet on the Lakers to cover the short first-half spread.

PICK: First Half Lakers -1.5 (-120)

TEAM/PLAYER PROP

Davis looks like a great fit in the Lakers offense next to Lebron. The Brow can run the pick and roll, attack down low and hit jumpers when he needs to. He gets to face a Clippers team that was among the worst at defending inside last season, giving up 50.7 points per game in the paint. Montrezl Harrell, Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green will have a major mismatch on their hands against the Lakers star.

Last year Davis combined for 41.8 points, rebounds and assists per game but that includes a stretch towards the end of the season where New Orleans severely limited his minutes. Before the All-Star break, he combined for 45.2 points, rebounds, and assists per contest. Take the Over on his PRA total tonight.

PICK: Anthony Davis – Points, Rebounds and Assists Over 41.5 (-115)

 

FULL GAME TOTAL

The O/U for this game opened at 227 on Saturday and has already dropped to 224 and for good reason. The Clippers should be terrific at defending on the perimeter with Patrick Beverly and Leonard while the Lakers will miss Kyle Kuzma’s production on the offensive end of the floor. Kuzma averaged 18.7 ppg last season but the forward is still recovering from a foot injury.

The Lakers should be much improved at defending the rim with Davis and Howard, which will force Leonard and Lou Williams to carry the offensive load.

The Lakers added plenty of experience and size in the offseason. That might be a formula for winning but also means that they added older players and guys that prefer to set up in the half-court rather than running the floor all game. Expect them to play at a slower pace than last season and take the Under 224.

PICK: Under 224 (-110)

FULL GAME SIDE

As we enter this new era of “Super-Duos” in the NBA the Clippers could find themselves at a disadvantage without one half of their duo. Leonard will do his part on both ends of the floor but the Clippers will need a heroic display from Lou Williams and improved defensive play from their big men if they want to hang with the Lakeshow.

The Clips won’t have an answer for AD and Lebron will come out as healthy and as motivated as he’s been in years. As the season goes on, expect Lakers coach Frank Vogel to start resting his superstars, but he has said that there won’t be any minutes restrictions for Lebron or Davis at the start of the year. Count on the Lakers viewing this as a statement game and back them to pull off the win while covering.

PICK: Los Angeles Lakers -3.5 (-105)