THE TOP 10 SONGS OF 2016

Posted December 5, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Tunes

#10: Parquet Courts/ Two Dead Cops

In a year that rightfully placed so much focus on police brutality, it was important to be reminded of the other side of the story, which is equally disturbing. On the best song from their best album to date, Parquet Courts use a powerful riff to tell the tale of walking upon murdered police in a New York City neighborhood. It’s a propulsive, powerful punk song, and about as dark as this band’s music gets.

#9: Kevin Morby/ I Have Been To The Mountain

2016 wasn’t overly generous in terms of providing transcendent indie rock, but this might have been the single best song that used a guitar as its primary instrument. Folksy acoustic chords turn more dramatic as the song evolves, complete with a horn section and lifted back-up harmonies. It’s a masterful balance of triumph and melancholy.

 #8: Anderson Paak/ The Season-Carry Me

The most complex track on Anderson Paak’s stunning concept album Malibu, “The Season” begins as a somewhat dark R&B track before shifting suddenly into the swanky, effortless groove of the hip-hop section “Carry Me.” Paak’s ability to straddle the line between genres with his raspy vocal is on full display here as he appears poised for even bigger things in the future.

#7: Blood Orange/ But You

The highlight track on Dev Hynes’ epic Freetown Sound probably best demonstrates the overall theme of the album, as he appears to be singing internally and offering himself encouragement as he grapples with his own self-image and construction- “You are special in your own way.” Tonally, it’s a masterpiece that evokes Michael Jackson’s more reflective, optimistic work, and brings together a devastating, perfectly executed bridge with jabs of electric guitar through its coda.

Breeders’ Cup Saturday Picks and Analysis

Posted November 4, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

4- Juvenile Filles, 8.5f, 2:05

In a tough-to-sort-out field of rapidly improving two-year olds, we’ll focus on fillies that have experience around two turns and that are in a preferable spot in their form cycle. VALADORNA is just a maiden winner at 8.5f and makes her third start, but with two speedy fillies to her inside, should be able to drop back and attain a ground-saving spot to mount her closing kick. While her speed figures appear middling among these (75 Beyer, 88 BRIS), daughter of Curlin has right to improve off of her 10/22 bullet work at Keeneland (5f in :59.3, 1/24). The horse to beat is perhaps NOTED AND QUOTED, who boasts field high speed figures around two turns from her win in the 8.5f Chandelier over this dirt track (80 Beyer, 90 BRIS). Baffert trainee has looked fantastic this week and seems very logical here. The other Baffert entry is BRIS Prime Power selection AMERICAN GAL who has yet to contest two turns, but looked spectacular in winning a listed stakes here at 6f, pulling away through the stretch (84 Beyer, 94 BRIS, both field highs over a dry track). That race came against lesser, but speedy filly draws outside the pace and has been working like gangbusters. She turns around quickly (13 days!) but has as much upside as any. YELLOW AGATE made a fair enough account of herself while stalking and winning the 8f Frizette at Belmont (77 Beyer, 91 BRIS) and fits right in on figures, although she’s another that will be stretching out. Looking for value, you could do worse than to land on WITH HONORS, who led for most of the local prep before losing the lead late to be beaten a half length by NOTED AND QUOTED. If we like that one, we have to like her at least a little bit off that effort, and she does have a bullet work under her belt over the track. The concern is being buried near the rail in a race where she will face more pace pressure. A couple that we will try to beat include JAMYSON N GINGER, whose freaky speed figure earned in her last appears to have been slop assisted, and UNION STRIKE, who was an impressive winner of the 7f Debutante but skipped her two turn prep and now races for a new trainer; bad signals. SWEET LORETTA is a perfect 3 for 3 but also comes in off a long layoff trying to stretch out.

Picks:

1) Valadorna 5-1

2) Noted And Quoted 9-2

3) American Gal 6-1

4) Yellow Agate 8-1

Longshot: With Honors 10-1

5- Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, 10f, 2:43

The revival of morning line favorite LADY ELI’s career after her life-threatening battle with laminitis will be one of the feel good stories of this Breeders’ Cup. After winning the 10f Flower Bowl in her last race (102 Beyer, 101 BRIS) she proved that she can handle this distance, and stands as the home team’s best chance. However, she is far from a single, and not even our top choice, in this spot. We’ll take a shot with the three-year old European SEVENTH HEAVEN, who gets Ryan Moore aboard for Aidan O’Brien. This filly beat the highly regarded Arc winner and defending Breeders’ Cup Turf champion FOUND two back, and gets a cutback in distance combined with some class relief here. She also gets first time Lasix and has a considerable advantage over the field in terms of Racing Post Ratings (121 to Lady Eli’s 114). SEA CALISI was 3rd behind LADY ELI in the Flower Bowl, but closing type was up against it coming off a two month layoff since her Beverly D score, and thanks to the slow pace that day. She should see a bit more here and be coming late, but appears just a cut below the top two. Another three-year old shipper is QUEEN’S TRUST, who is Group 1 placed in Britain and actually finished ahead of the top choice in her last. She gets first time Lasix and has the second highest Racing Post Rating in the field (115) but has never won a race over the turf; seems to be more of a contender for the bottom of exotics than for the win. AL’S GAL is a former claimer turned Grade 1 winner, and this rapidly improving Mike Maker mare always shows up, having not finished worse than 2nd in her last six starts, all stakes races. The waters are deeper here but her ability to rate and close make her intriguing in a race that sets up with a fair amount of pace. CATCH A GLIMPSE, SENTERIO ITALIA, AVENGE, KITCAT and ZIPESSA should account for that, but all have shown signs that this distance is at or beyond their limits.

Picks:

1) Seventh Heaven 3-1

2) Lady Eli 5-2

3) Sea Calisi 8-1

4) Queen’s Trust 6-1

Longshot: Al’s Gal 15-1

6- Breeders’ Cup Sprint, 6f, 3:21

The defection of Lord Nelson took a lot of glamour out of this race. He would have been our pick for the winner and the race now stands with just seven runners, a disappointingly short field for a Breeders’ Cup race. This is the one race that year after year, we tend to simply eyeball the speed figures and apply accordingly. This race is rarely won by closers, and usually the horse that has shown the fastest speed at the 6f distance is a pretty safe bet. Unfortunately, this year, that picture isn’t as clear as two of them top out with 107 Beyers and both have been working extremely well.  But they do appear to tower above the rest, and it’s tough to go much deeper than two here in multis considering the small field.  The lightly raced MASOCHISTIC actually has the field’s highest overall Beyer (110), but that came at 7f and was back in August, and he’s only 1/5 lifetime at 6f. He hasn’t raced since then, but has posted an absurd six bullet works over the course off that layoff. He’ll be sent straight to the front, and they’ll all have to catch him. He’s 4/6 liftetime at Santa Anita, and trainer Ron Ellis wins with 31% of his runners off a similar lay.  Horse for the course gets the nod narrowly over A.P. INDIAN, who has done nothing wrong in winning all six of his starts this year. He has also posted two bullet works since his last race. The separation between these two is truly so small, but the feeling here is that this colt may have regressed slightly in his last after such a tough campaign, and he has also never raced at Santa Anita. It’s also worth noting that his two best career efforts have come at 7f, although his record at 6f is superior to the top choice. We won’t split hairs and will try to simply get through this race with one of the two without having to take a hard stand either way. Three-year old DREFONG has upside but looks like an underlay against the above two coming off a long layoff following a 7f win in the King’s Bishop against lesser. He’s 2/3 at Santa Anita but takes a big step up in class; he got away with an easy lead in his last and will need to improve several lengths on his career high 103 Beyer to be competitive here. LIMOUSINE LIBERAL added blinkers in his last and popped a big number in giving A.P. INDIAN all he could handle, but lost to the speedster DELTA BLUESMAN three back; that one actually crossed the wire ahead of A.P INDIAN in May but lost by disqualification. He comes in fresh here off sharp works, and actually owns the field high BRIS figure at the distance (108), will go straight to the lead and could hang on for a share. There shouldn’t be much chance for a pace meltdown in such a short field, but MIND YOUR BISCUITS is the lone closer signed on. He was no match for DREFONG or today’s foe NOHOLDINGBACK BEAR in his last two, but crazier things have happened at the Breeders’ Cup, and race shape players should take notice.

Picks:

1) Masochistic 2-1

2) A.P. Indian 4-1

3) Drefong 7-2

4) Delta Bluesman 15-1

Longshot: Mind Your Biscuits 20-1

7- Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, 6.5f, 4:05

Always one of the biggest crapshoots of the day, this edition of the Turf Sprint stretches out a full furlong from last year’s event at Keeneland and takes place on a downhill course. There are several angles in play here, as a quartet of Euro invaders ship in to run against horses stretching out, cutting back, and returning to their specialist course. Defending champion MONGOLIAN SATURDAY will race out of the #3 hole, which has been successful on this turf course, but pure speed horse has always been better going shorter than 6f. We’ll toss him along with tepid morning line favorite PURE SENSATION, another pace type that will be forced to gun it from the rail and figures to struggle going longer. We’ll instead focus in on those who are true downhill specialists at Santa Anita, as four of the five Turf Sprint winners on this course owned a win on it before the race. We land on HOLY LUTE. He won the local prep for this at the distance (101 Beyer, 98 BRIS) and is 9-2-3-0 lifetime here. AMBITIOUS BREW is another horse for the course, boasting a 10-5-2-0 record here. Despite the slightly better record, he ran a bit slower than the top choice on the same day (96 Beyer, 95 BRIS), although both will be fair prices. Sticking with horses that have run well on the Santa Anita turf, an obvious contender (sorry) is BRIS Prime Power selection OBVIOUSLY, who arguably gets some class relief as he cuts back in distance. Pure speed type is deadly on the lead even at the ripe old age of eight and has made a career out of being a consistent miler. They’ll all have to catch him out of the #2 hole, and we’re not sure they can. Compared to the other cutback horses, including OM, CELESTINE and A LOT, he has the most consistent Beyers (104, 108 and 106 in last three races) and fastest average BRIS E1 and E2 pace figures (108, 113). Of the rest, A LOT looks most appealing on the cutback following a career best Beyer of 105 in his last race but will have a two month layoff to contend with. The Euros are pretty hard to separate here, but the slight edge goes to KARAR, who has kept the classiest company, finishing 2nd at 7f in his last to the highly regarded LIMATO, who goes in the Mile, and holding off fellow contender SUEDOIS. All Euro shippers receive first time Lasix, although no Euro has ever won this race, downhill or otherwise. More plausible as a longshot is probably UNDRAFTED, who has been off form this year but has been racing at distances shorter than ideal, and now gets to stretch out to his sweet spot. Six-year old deep closer was once the most fearsome in his division and while not a downhill specialist, should get ample pace to set up his late run.

Picks:

1) Holy Lute 10-1

2) Obviously 6-1

3) Ambitious Brew 10-1

4) A Lot 8-1

Longshot: Undrafted 12-1, Karar 15-1

9- Breeders’ Cup Turf, 12f, 5:22

Three contenders appear to tower above the rest here. A decided lack of pace may prove beneficial to HIGHLAND REEL, an Aidan O’Brien trainee. We were supporters when he wired the Secretariat at our hometown Arlington track last summer, so his affinity for firmer turf is noted. He gets the nod here on form going back to his Group 1 win in Hong Kong in a head to head matchup with FLINTSHIRE. That one is another who should enjoy the firmer going, boasting field high speed figures at the distance (112 Beyer, 116 BRIS) and will try to turn the tables on the defending champion filly FOUND. She won the prestigious Arc de Triomphe over the top choice and defeated the second choice last year, but may find less pace and firmer ground than she did in either of those events. This will also be her third start in five weeks. All three of them boast equal Racing Post Ratings of 124. BRIS Prime Power Selection MONDIALISTE won the Arlington Million at 10f as our top choice, and finds a bit of an odd spot here, having raced most of his career at shorter distances. But why not give him a shot underneath, as he gave no indication of distance limitations in that win, and his last start at a mile didn’t set up for his closing style up front. Perhaps he will appreciate the added ground. The three-year old Irish colt ULYSSES is regally bred and enters off two solid Group 3 efforts across the pond over firmer turf. He’s trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who has four career wins in this race and two over this turf course, and appears live at a price underneath against a weak contingent of Americans. ECTOT defeated FLINTSHIRE last out (106 Beyer, 97 BRIS), the only horse to do so this year, but that race came over yielding turf and this one won’t; he was losing optional claiming races prior to that. MONEY MULTIPILER and TWILIGHT ECLIPSE have never been any match for FLINTSHIRE, although the former did put up a competitive figure 109 Beyer, 112 BRIS) two back, and may have not liked the yielding turf in his last.

Picks:

1) Highland Reel 3-1

2) Flintshire 3-1

3) Found 5-2

4) Mondialiste 15-1

Longshot: Ulysses 12-1

10- Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, 7f, 6:01

Evenly matched field figures to be a smart race to spread in multi-race wagers. TARA’S TANGO goes third off the lay and looks like horse for the course here as she cuts back for Jerry Hollendorfer following a 4th place finish in the 8.5f Zenyatta against far better company. Before that, she won a 6.5f Grade 3 at Del Mar and was gaining ground through the wire (90 Beyer, 103 BRIS). She’s a Grade 1 winner over this track and is 8-2-3-1 lifetime at Santa Anita. She fired a bullet 5f work on 10/16 (1:00.0, 1/59). She has proven ability to relax and rate off the lead and her average Late Pace figures make her competitive here at a price. The most logical winner is HAVEYOUGONEAWAY, who earns morning line favorite status off her win in the 7f Ballerina (99 Beyer, 102 BRIS), which looks like a key race for this. She’s had a two month layoff since then but has fired two bullet works leading up to this, and holds the fastest BRIS Late Pace Last Race figure in the field (104). BY THE MOON was second in that race and also closed well to miss the winners’ circle by just a half length. She’s run her last four at this distance, having bested several of these runners, so she seems to merit inclusion at a fair price here off a two month layoff. If CARINA MIA can reproduce her runaway win in the 7f Eight Belles from May (93 Beyer, 104 BRIS) she may have a say, but she’s tough to endorse off her easily beaten 3rd in the Ballerina. She’ll cut back here and get some class relief after an 8.5f beating at the hands of Songbird, but Bill Mott has won with just 1/25 runners going from a sprint to a route and back to a sprint. IRISH JASPER looks light on figures following a closing 6f win in the TCA at Keeneland (89 Beyer, 94 BRIS) but stands a chance to pick up a share from off the pace as she stretches out here; could be to her liking. Defending champion WAVELL AVENUE hasn’t been in the same form this year and looks to require a total pace meltdown, having lost to several of these foes head to head this year. PAULASSILVERLINING could be the speed of the speed here, but strikes us as more of a 6f type as she faded in the Ballerina after leading, and the decent figures (94 Beyer, 102 BRIS) she earned at 6.5f in winning her last came over the mud. GLORYZAPPER is 4-1-3-0 over this track and shows a sharp work here recently (5f in :59.0, 1/41) but takes a class leap and would need to improve figure-wise, appears to be part of the early pace.

Picks:

1) Tara’s Tango 8-1

2) Haveyougoneaway 3-1

3) By The Moon 8-1

4) Carina Mia 7-2

Longshot: Irish Jasper 10-1

11- Breeders’ Cup Mile, 8f, 6:40

This looks like the deepest race on the entire two-day card, with a whopping 10 Grade 1 winners signed on, any of which one could make a case for. The race appears to have a fair amount of pace, which is not to say it will be blazing up front, but fractions of :23.0 and :46.0 on the lead seem a reasonable estimate. IRONICUS closed like a freight train into slow fractions when just missing the win by a head in the Shadwell Mile, (106 Beyer, 100 BRIS) gobbling up three lengths in the stretch in his first try off a long layoff. He looks to have the most devastating turn of foot in the field (103 Late Pace Last Race is tops here by double digits) and should improve on that effort in his second start off the lay. With the right trip he could upset here at decent odds, and has been working very well for Shug McGaughey. It would be impossible to exclude defending champion and all-world mare TEPIN, who had won eight in a row, including a Group 1 win at Ascot, before being upset in her last by a loose-on-the lead PHOTO CALL. Egregious and collective jockey error played some role in the odd outcome of that race, but one has to wonder if Tepin was fully cranked for that race to begin with or whether that was simply a workout for this. She’s as classy as they come (121 Racing Post Rating) and knows how to stalk and pounce on the leaders. The two primary speeds in this race both merit looks on a “horse for the course” angle. MIDNIGHT STORM comes in fresh off a ten week layoff and shows a 5-2-1-0 record over this turf course, including a win in the 8f Shoemaker Mile in June where he posted a field high Beyer figure (110). He backed that up in his most recent start with a 106, and if the pace goes slower than expected, he could be very difficult to pass on his home turf. We prefer his chances to WHAT A VIEW, another speed type, who draws the rail here. He’s undefeated in five starts over the turf at Santa Anita, but threw in a real dud when 8th in the Shadwell last out. That was his first start in six months though, and perhaps he needed the race and could improve returning to this track. We’ll stay away from PHOTO CALL, who was allowed to set easy fractions when separating from the field on the lead and upsetting TEPIN; they won’t let her get away with that trick again. MISS TEMPLE CITY is another that won her last on the lead while setting easy fractions, and TOURIST has been tough to figure out recently, showing just one win in his last seven starts. Both appear in pretty deep here despite our preference on top for a horse that ran right with them in their last. That turns our attention to the formidable Euro contingent. LIMATO comes in highly credentialed, and boasts the highest Racing Post Rating in the field (126). The concern with him is the distance, as he has never won beyond 7f, and his only career off-the-board finish came in his only career 8f try. He’ll get first time Lasix but will also encounter firmer turf than he is accustomed to and while he should certainly have a say at the end, may be worth beating on the top line and in exotics. ALICE SPRINGS is more accomplished at the distance, winning three of her last four races, all at 8f and all in Group 1 company, and has every right to win this. We’ll go four deep here in multis.

Picks:

1) Ironicus 8-1

2) Tepin 3-1

3) Midnight Storm 12-1

4) Alice Springs 4-1

Longshot: What A View 20-1

12- Breeders’ Cup Classic, 10f, 7:35

The main event seems focused around two primary contenders that come into this race with an equal amount of hype for completely different reasons, as one seems to have Horse of the Year all but locked up, while the other has catapulted into contention for the Three-Year Old Eclipse award after one of the most stunning performances in recent memory. If ARROGATE’s towering 13 length win in the 10f Travers is to be believed, then they are all running for second. The 122 Beyer and 124 BRIS speed figure he earned there simply puts him double digit lengths ahead of the next fastest horse. There’s certainly an argument to be made that he has to prove it again against older, stronger foes, but at 5-2 on the morning line, the price is right to find out. He’s been layed off by design since that romp, and has been working impressively over the local track, where he already has won twice. He reminds us of the great Tiznow, another west coast based three-year old who came out of nowhere that fall and won this race. CALIFORNIA CHROME will take a lot of beating however. The 2014 Kentucky Derby winner has been in career form as a five-year old, winning all six of his starts here and abroad in Dubai. He’s back on his home track and if the top choice doesn’t fire, should win rather easily off his prior form (113 Beyer, 112 BRIS). There isn’t a blazing pace expected in this edition of the Classic, but MELATONIN figures to go to the lead. He’s 4/4 lifetime at Santa Anita and has competitive figures at this distance (109 Beyer, 107 BRIS). If he gets too easy of a lead up front, anything is possible, as he has no limitations getting 10f. He has a four month layoff to contend with, however. FROSTED turned in one of the year’s greatest performances when he annihilated the Met Mile field by 14 lengths, earning a 123 Beyer. However, after failing to hit the board in last year’s Derby, we were reminded that he is better going a bit shorter than this, and the Dirt Mile would probably have been a more logical spot for him. Expect him to tuck in behind the pace and make a fair account of himself, however. HOPPERTUNITY, by contrast, is a colt that thrives with added ground, and finally got his first Grade 1 victory in the 10f Jockey Club Gold Cup last out (105 Beyer, 103 BRIS). He’s familiar with the track here, showing an 11-3-4-2 career record. He’s kept strong company all year and actually finished ahead of FROSTED at this distance in Dubai, so he stands a chance to crash the board at decent odds; he’s consistent and always brings it late. EFFINEX was 2nd in this event last year and should be placed close to the place, but he seems to be just a step slower this year and finished just a half length behind HOPPERTUNITY in the Jockey Club. KEEN ICE and SHAMAN GHOST will both be coming from the clouds but may find less pace here than is ideally conducive to their style.

Picks:

1) Arrogate 5-2

2) California Chrome 1-1

3) Melatonin 12-1

4) Frosted 5-1

Longshot: Hoppertunity 15-1

Breeders’ Cup Friday Picks and Analysis

Posted November 4, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

6- Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, 8f, 4:25

In a deep, contentious 14-horse field such as this, it’s surprising to note that it includes just two last out-winners at the 8f distance on turf, and we will focus on them as our keys in this race. Bill Mott sends out the undefeated GOOD SAMARITAN with Joel Rosario aboard off his win in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine from off the pace at this distance, where he posted a 95 BRIS speed figure and a towering field high 94 Beyer. He figures to get a similar setup here with some one-way speed types signed on, and has the fastest closing punch in the group (96 BRIS Late Pace Last Race and 94 Average Late Pace tower over the field). With two bullet works under his belt for this since his last start, he appears to be sitting on a big one. The only colt to have won over this Santa Anita turf course is BIG SCORE, who showed improvement winning a listed stakes here while posting a field high BRIS Speed Figure of 96. He’s another that likes to come from off the pace and should be suited by the potential race shape. It’s always difficult to discount the chances of Aidan O’Brien trained shippers in this spot, even on the firm turf course. He sends two here, neither of which have ever contended a route race. The nod goes to LANCASTER BOMBER, who shows a Group 1 placing at 7f in his last, and whose 115 Racing Post Rating tops the field. He draws a tough post at the rail but likes to run on the lead anyway. He fits well on class in this spot and gets first time Lasix along with his stablemate INTELLIGENCE CROSS, but that one has never gone beyond 6f and looks slightly less credentialed on form (not Group 1 placed). The speedy OSCAR PERFORMANCE drew far outside but could work out a nice trip just off the leaders. Son of Kitten’s Joy should enjoy the slight cutback here, although his career best effort in the 8.5f Pilgrim came over yielding turf, and his Racing Post Rating of 104 lags well behind the top choices, and he’ll run without Lasix. An interesting longshot and hometown favorite of ours is the BRIS Prime Power selection WELLABLED, who takes a class leap while making a surface switch from the Arlington polytrack, where he easily wired the field in the 7f Futurity. Son of Shackleford runs without Lasix but figures to go straight to the lead and see how far he can take them.

Picks:

1) Good Samaritan 9-2

2) Big Score 8-1

3) Lancaster Bomber 6-1

4) Oscar Performance 4-1

Longshot: Wellabled 12-1

7- Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, 8f, 5:05

 Heavily favored DORTMUND certainly appears in a great spot here. In six career starts over the dirt track at Santa Anita, he shows five wins and a second. He’ll actually get a bit of class relief here following a three race campaign that featured the likes of California Chrome and Beholder, and pacesetter should benefit from the cutback in distance. He’s posted triple digit BRIS Speed figures in all three starts this year, topping out at 108 for his 8.5f runner-up effort in the San Diego. This lends credence to the idea he is better at shorter distances, and is ideally drawn here. While he is a must-use in this spot on the top line, he isn’t necessarily a single. BRIS Prime Power choice GUN RUNNER is another with two turn experience cutting back here that figures to sit a bit further off the leaders, and could be ready to pounce should the pace unfold faster than expected from the widest post of all. Consistent colt has yet to miss the board this year on a fast track in races spanning 8.5f-10f; trending upward. We’ll key in on these two off their two turn experience and distance cutbacks. TAMARKUZ is more of a one-turn specialist but would be interesting otherwise coming off his field high BRIS Speed Last Race figure (105) when 2nd in the 8f Kelso. He was hot last winter in Dubai and hasn’t won since shipping back, but his last was his best effort to date, and a duplication of that race puts him squarely in the mix. Defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion RUNHAPPY must be respected as he stretches out in this spot, but has a lot going against him as he makes his second start of the year following a sub-par when 4th last out at this distance in his return from injury. He’s never won at this distance and may not be in peak form, but deserves a look underneath on talent alone. VYJACK closed impressively two back at 7f on dirt but has been most successful on turf this year, while TOM’S READY has been more effective as a one-turn closer. If the race completely falls apart up front, TEXAS CHROME may be more likely than either to pick up the pieces as he cuts back following three straight wins that have included field high BRIS Late Pace numbers.

Picks:

1) Dortmund 6-5

2) Gun Runner 9-2

3) Tamarkuz 8-1

4) Runhappy 3-1

Longshot: Texas Chrome 20-1

8- Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, 8f, 5:50

It’s interesting to note that U.S. bred fillies have won five of the seven editions of this race, and that no filly trained by Aidan O’Brien has ever won it. Perhaps this is the year though, as he ships two competitive entrants. We’ll side with HYDRANGEA, who drew poorly to land on the rail, but considering her tendency to make the lead, shouldn’t be compromised terribly as long as she breaks, and should save ground on the lead. She was nosed out for the win in the 7f Moyglare Stud over yielding by one of today’s foes, and managed an impressive 2nd again in a successive Group 1 that came over 8f on a surface labeled good. We like the spacing between races, the fact that she has run a route against top competition, and that she did so over firmer ground. His other shipper is morning line favorite ROLY POLY, who ties the top selection with a 112 Racing Post Rating. While she has never raced beyond 6f, she has been closing hard at the end of those races, and her pedigree (by War Front out of a Galileo mare) doesn’t seem to indicate any obvious distance limitations. The top selection was narrowly defeated by INTRICATELY in the aforementioned Grade 1 in something of an upset. Trained by Aidan’s son Joseph and ridden by another son Donnacha, INTRICATELY is the only Group 1 winner in the race. Having beaten the top selection and boasting a field high 113 Racing Post Rating, the feeling is that both must be used, but the firmer turf may provide a bit more of an issue as she was 3rd in weaker company in her only attempt on turf no labeled yielding, and also comes in on a 54 day break. We’ll take a stand against SPAIN BURG, who is a Group 2 winner at 7f, but has also never run a route. Trainer Kathy Ritvo is 0/12 lifetime with “1st at route starters”, and the filly’s Racing Post Rating of 109 is just a touch below the other shippers. There is a large drop of in terms of those numbers to the Americans, but LA CORONEL, poorly drawn in the widest post of all, appears the best hope for the home team (103). She’s one of just two runners to have a win at a route distance over firm ground and gets a cutback here. The other is VICTORY TO VICTORY (103), winner of the Grade 1 Natalma at this distance, from the same prep race and connections as last year’s winner Catch A Glimpse; appears interesting at these odds.

Picks:

1) Hydrangea 6-1

2) Intricately 6-1

3) Roly Poly 4-1

4) La Coronel 9-2

Longshot: Victory To Victory 12-1

9- Breeders’ Cup Distaff, 9f, 6:35

What an absolutely fantastic edition of this race is lined up this year. With six of the eight entrants Grade 1 winners, one could argue that this will be the greatest Distaff field ever assembled. While all six could make a case for the win, there is a three-headed monster that will be awfully difficult to leave off tickets. All three have sparkling records over this Santa Anita dirt surface, and are very hard to separate as such. We’ll lean towards the older runners in this spot though. It could certainly be a fitting end to the career of the 6-year old mare BEHOLDER to earn the win in this spot after being sidelined from last year’s attempt against the boys in the Classic. One could argue that she’s lost a step, but she draws perfectly for a stalking trip here outside the other speed, and hasn’t exactly been disgraced in her three second-placed finishes this year, posting consistent BRIS speed figures of 106-107-106. She’s won at distances beyond this one, shows the highest career figure at this distance (112) and is 15-13-2-0 lifetime over the Santa Anita surface. All systems go with Gary Stevens back in the saddle. We’ll look for her to turn the tables on 4-year old STELLAR WIND, who has defeated her in their last two meetings at 8.5f and missed winning this race by a neck last year at Keeneland. We are really splitting hairs here between these two, as they tower over the field in terms of figures (110 Beyer, 107 BRIS in last meeting), but the clincher here is that STELLAR WIND has never won at 9f. She’s 5-4-1-0 lifetime at Santa Anita though. BRIS Prime Power selection SONGBIRD looms the favorite off her undefeated record in 11 career starts, 5 of which came at Santa Anita. Something will have to give between these three, as none have finished worse than 2nd here in 25 combined career starts between them. The younger filly does look a cut below on figures (101 Beyer, 103 BRIS) and takes a class leap, but is tough to deny on talent. From the rail, she’ll be sent and it would be no surprise to see her wire the field in her first start against elders, but for double the price, we’ll side, with reservation, with the more experienced runners. CURALINA was 3rd in this race last year and stands every chance to hit the board again here, although she may have been more intriguing cutting back. She’ll run off a long layoff but her two biggest career romps have come in similar spots in her form cycle and her works can’t be easily dismissed. The 105 Beyer she earned at this distance two back looks competitive but came over slop. I’M A CHATTERBOX has won three of her last four but lost to two of today’s foes this year after finishing just 8th in this race last year as a 3-year old. Most interesting underneath though if the race falls apart up front is FOREVER UNBRIDLED, a winner of a 9f Grade 1 in her last. That came over slop as well, but she’s split her two head to head meetings with CURALINA and shows field high BRIS Late Pace numbers.

Picks:

1) Beholder 5-2

2) Stellar Wind 5-2

3) Songbird 6-5

4) Forever Unbridled 12-1

College Football Week 8 Picks

Posted October 20, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

NC State at #7 Louisville -19.5, 11:00 ABC:

On the surface, this looks like an obvious spot to take the points, with the Wolfpack having just taken to overtime a team that beat Louisville outright. There is some strange line movement however, as despite 55% of public support for the underdog, the spread has risen from 18. The FPI/ Sagarin average spread agrees, seeing the fair line around 16. There’s an argument to be made that Clemson’s plethora of red zone turnovers kept that game closer than it should have been last week, but NC State is a tough defensive squad that ranks 5th nationally in rushing defense and should neutralize Louisville’s greatest strength, keeping this one closer than the number.

#10 Wisconsin -3.5 at Iowa, 11:00 ESPN:

This is an odd line on first glance, but not out of whack statistically, as the computers see it around 4. A whopping 87% of the public has thrown its support behind the Badger side, which is never a great proposition for bettors. This is a game that is a perennial grind-it-out slog as two solid defenses usually keep each other’s challenged offenses at bay, with points at a premium. Slight edge goes to Wisconsin’s defense.

#6 Texas A&M at #1 Alabama -18.5, 2:30 CBS:

Enough is enough with these Alabama spreads, right? With the public about evenly split on the game, it has exploded from its opening line of 16. The FPI/ Sagarin computer average fair spread is 13, making this the largest divergence on the card. Alabama lit Tennessee up on the ground last week but looked shaky in the passing game, and there’s reason to believe Myles Garrett and a tough Aggie defensive line can give the Tide a bit of a tougher test, especially rested off the bye week. Those looking for an additional angle might recall how Aggie QB Trevor Knight torched the Tide in the 2014 Sugar Bowl in a stunner while he was playing at Oklahoma.

TCU at #12 West Virginia -5.5, 2:30 ABC

The Mountaineers did an impressive job keeping the high powered Texas Tech passing attack at bay last week, but their overall defensive prowess may be a bit of a mirage, as they still rank just 90th nationally in passing defense. TCU presents another tough challenge, as Kenny Hill leads an offense that ranks 6th in passing. The FPI/Sagarin average fair spread here is 4, but with 66% of the public siding with West Virginia, this has driven it higher. The feeling here is that there is some small edge to be had siding with the dog.

Memphis -2.5 at #24 Navy, 2:30 CBSSN

This line certainly looks bizarre on first glance, with the ranked home underdog coming fresh off an upset of mid-major darling Houston. The computers actually see the spread as fair though, and with 64% of the public on Navy, the line has still risen from 1. This reverse line movement despite public support for the underdog leads us to smell a rat. Memphis has quietly put together an impressive season, and ranks in the Top 25 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense.

#19 Utah at UCLA -6.5, 3:00 FOX

Josh Rosen returns at QB in a must win spot for the Bruins. The FPI/Sagarin computer average sees the fair spread at 7.5. UCLA has disappointed thus far, losing four games, but they’ve come by an average of 6 points (including an overtime loss to Texas A&M) and none have come by double digits, and two of them came without their star QB. Utah’s record, conversely, is inflated by narrow wins over some pretty bad opponents. Expect a big performance from Rosen in this spot and for the Bruins to roll.

#17 Arkansas at #21 Auburn -9.5, 5:00 ESPN

This is the reverse line movement play of the day and maybe the most glaring of the season to date, as despite a stunning 81% of public support for the Razorbacks (by far the trendiest dog on the board), this spread has drifted two points towards Auburn. The computers seem to agree, spotting the fair spread around 11 between FPI and Sagarin, which is actually the largest spread divergence on the card for a favorite. Follow the sharp money on an Auburn team that has put together a sneaky tough campaign so far behind improving play ay QB, with its only two losses coming against teams currently undefeated and ranked in the Top 6.

#2 Ohio State -19.5 at Penn State, 7:00 ABC

Happy Valley at night can be a tough environment, but the Nittany Lions catch a tough matchup here due to their inability to stop the run (103rd nationally in rushing defense). Ohio State ranks 4th in the nation in rushing which would seem to indicate that they will be able to dictate the pace of this game and score at will. The FPI/ Sagarin average line is 18, but 72% of the public favors a Buckeye blowout.

#16 Oklahoma -13.5 at Texas Tech, 7:00 FOX

Sure, Texas Tech got embarrassed at home last week by a West Virginia team that was finally able to stop the Red Raider passing attack. Still, that passing attack is ranked 1st nationally by a wide margin even after that subpar effort, and that’s a bad matchup for an Oklahoma secondary that continues to lack answers or show improvement (107th nationally in passing defense). Expect the Sooners (who won’t have star RB Samaje Perine available) to prevail here in a road shootout but Texas Tech should be able to score enough points to cover this spread. The computers agree, as the average line between FPI and Sagarin checks in at 11. The public seems oblivious to matchup discrepancy here, as 67% of spread bets are on the Sooner side, so bettors may receive a bit of edge as the line pushes artificially higher.

#23 Ole Miss at #25 LSU -5.5, 8:00 ESPN

The return of Leonard Fournette combined with a highly susceptible Rebel rushing defense (104th nationally) at night in Baton Rouge could spell trouble for an Ole Miss squad that comes in reeling. We see reverse line movement with 58% of public support on the underdog as the line has risen from 4.5, which is also the FPI/Sagarin average fair spread. LSU seems to be hitting its stride and has been playing much better offensively since the firing of Les Miles, and this should be a re-arrival statement with the return of Fournette.

College Football Week 7 Picks

Posted October 13, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

Kansas State at #19 Oklahoma -10.5, 11:00 ESPN:

The computers see this spread as being roughly fair, with the FPI/ Sagarin average coming in around 11. The Wildcats have been sneaky tough defensively, ranking 15th nationally in scoring defense and 3rd in rushing defense. Where the Sooners may be able to exploit them is in the passing game, where KSU ranks just 66th defensively. They may be able to keep OU off balance but the feeling is that this is an offense that has started to click, and that would have covered easily last week if not four careless turnovers. If they can take care of the football, a two touchdown victory seems very reachable.

NC State at #3 Clemson -17.5, 11:00 ABC:

Clemson is the strongest publicly backed side on the card, with 84% of bets falling with the Tigers. That isn’t an in incredibly attractive situation in most cases to support the favorite, especially as the line has hardly budged off the action (opened at 17). However, in this case, it is hard to argue against it. The FPI/ Sagarin average spread of 20.5 indicates a fair amount of edge at this number, and Clemson seems to be gaining momentum currently.

#1 Alabama -12.5 at #9 Tennessee, 2:30, CBS:

Nick Saban is often furious with his team after victories, and such was the case last week after his defense gave up 30 points in a road win at Arkansas. This Vols offense is better balanced and has more weapons than the Razorbacks do, and one would have to think that this is the game that Tennessee has had circled on its calendar for a long time. The FPI/ Sagarin computers see the average fair spread here to be 9, so there is a good amount of edge in siding with the home team here. 67% of the public is supporting the Tide in this spot, which has moved the line a point and provided some extra edge for those on the Tennessee side, as this seems like a lot of points on the road.

USC -8.5 at Arizona, 2:30 FOX:

We don’t have a strong read on this game, but while the computers seem to indicate some small edge in taking the home underdog (average fair spread = 6.5), it is hard to shake the notion that Arizona simply isn’t a team with identity. What do they do well? Meanwhile USC has come on in its last two games and still doesn’t have a truly bad loss on the resume. Maybe Arizona’s 88th ranked scoring defense will give the Trojans an opportunity to improve upon an offense that has underperformed to this point, ranking just 93rd in scoring. In any case, this is a game that Clay Helton and crew absolutely cannot lose.

North Carolina at #16 Miami -7.5, 2:30 ABC:

North Carolina 37- Florida State 35. Florida State 20- Miami 19. So, North Carolina wins by 3 via transitive property. The FPI/ Sagarin computers see this spread as roughly fair, so it is a matter of weighing the angles. North Carolina certainly had some excuses in its blowout home loss last week to Virginia Tech, as the field conditions played away from their game plan. Still, the somewhat surprisingly large point spread here has the public supporting the Tarheels to the tune of 61%, which makes them the trendiest underdog on the card. While the transitive property is far from an exact science for betting purposes, it is hard to go against it when it indicates a different winner than the spread does, especially when the spread is this large.

#10 Nebraska -3.5 at Indiana, 2:30 ESPN 2:

A 5-0 start has the Huskers back in the Top 10, but who have they really beaten? A 3 point home win over Oregon (in a game the Ducks went for 2-point conversions four times and missed) doesn’t hold up very well after the subsequent efforts by the Ducks. The computers see the fair line here as 8.5, which makes this the spread largest divergence for a favorite on the card. Angles are in contrast though which makes this look like a trap, as for the third straight week, we see reverse line movement with sharp money on the Hoosiers, as the spread opened at 6.5 but has fallen despite only 32% of public bets backing the underdog. They’ve covered the last two games when this has been observed. This trend has been the most successful play of the year so far and this looks like a great spot to money line the Hoosiers at home on homecoming weekend.

#12 Ole Miss -7.5 at #22 Arkansas, 6:00 ESPN:

With 58% of the public on the home team here, Arkansas is one of just two publicly supported underdogs on the card this week. The teams have one common opponent in Alabama, but the scores aren’t very comparable as Ole Miss benefited from some late game luck to backdoor cover in their game. The computers see this line to be roughly fair. The hook is a tricky one in this spot but Ole Miss seems like the more well-rounded team so we will continue to fade the public underdog. The Landshark D has been highly effective on third down passing situations, limiting opponents to just a 22% conversion rate, and the passing game appears to be the Razorbacks’ bread and butter considering the extreme weakness of their offensive line.

Stanford at Notre Dame -2.5, 6:30 NBC:

Two teams that have vastly underachieved this season meet, and this looks like a strange spread. Christian McCaffery is listed as questionable, but outside of that, it is hard to imagine why Notre Dame would be giving points to anyone coming off losses to mediocre ACC teams like Duke and NC State, while the pounding they took at the hands of Michigan State continues to look worse and worse as the Spartans falter. The FPI/ Sagarin fair spread average favors Stanford by 3, and that’s enough leeway to take the points here whether McCaffery plays or not.

#2 Ohio State -10.5 at #8 Wisconsin, 7:00 ABC:

The Badger offense is still a work in progress, and it didn’t answer many questions when scoring only 7 points in a loss to Michigan. The Buckeye defense poses a similar challenge as the Wolverines did, ranking 2nd nationally in scoring. Wisconsin’s defense is no slouch itself, ranking 4th, but Ohio State’s high-powered scoring attack ranks 3rd on the offensive side of the ball. This is a tricky hook with the computers seeing the fair line around 10, with the underdog at home and coming off the bye. But, statistically speaking, it seems fair to estimate Wisconsin will score about 3-7 points in this game. Can they keep the Buckeyes under 20 points? That seems to be asking a lot…

UCLA at Washington State -5.5, 9:30, ESPN:

Washington State 42- Stanford 16. Stanford 22- UCLA 13. So Washington State wins by 35 via transitive property. The computers see WSU as just a 3 point favorite on average, but that’s assuming Josh Rosen plays at QB for the Bruins, and he’s currently listed as questionable. Even if he does play, he figures to be banged up, and the Cougars seem to have figured things out following two close losses to start the season and head home fresh off the aforementioned walloping of Stanford on the road. 84% of public bets on the home team have driven the spread higher from its opening line of 4.

Week 6 Picks

Posted October 7, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

Texas vs. #20 Oklahoma -10.5, 11:00 FS1:

The underdog has shown a tendency to outperform in this game in recent years, and as a result the Longhorns have 55% of public support, although the sharp bettors appear to be on Oklahoma. (Publicly supported underdogs went 1-4 ATS on our sheet last week, with the one that did cover, Wisconsin, being very fortunate to do so). To our eyes, this has to be viewed as a really bad matchup for the Texas defense, which comes in ranked 116th nationally in scoring defense against a high-powered Sooner offense, and the FPI/ Sagarin average sees the fair spread here around 12. Oklahoma has had their fair share of issues on defense, but believe that last year’s upset loss that nearly (and probably should have) kept them out of the playoff is still fresh in their minds.

#9 Tennessee at #8 Texas A&M -6.5 2:30 CBS:

Tennessee continued their miracle season on a hail mary pass last week right after Georgia had done the same, all right after the Vols had scored on an improbable fumble recovery to take the lead. Can their luck continue on the road here? At 5-0, the Vols could just as easily be 1-4 had a few balls bounced the other direction. Texas A&M seems the more complete team here, and their stout defense led by Myles Garrett up front ranks 12th nationally in scoring defense. That could make the difference against an opponent that has shown moments of ineptitude on offense against far lesser. Aggie supporters receive the hook on the right side of the FPI/Sagarin fair spread of 7. 52% of the public support is on the underdog in this spot.

#25 Virginia Tech at #17 North Carolina -2.5, 2:30:

With 73% of the public on the Tarheels in this spot, the spread has moved down from 3, indicating some sharp players on the Hokies. Is this a potential letdown spot for UNC following an upset win at FSU, complete with a full-blown tomahawk chop celebration by the winning kicker? The computers don’t think so (FPI/ Sagarin average spread is 4), but we smell a rat here. UNC may find the passing threat they used to upset the Noles (12th nationally) neutralized by a much tougher Virginia Tech secondary (10th in passing defense vs 84th for FSU), and thanks to a horrendous rushing defense (116th), they have  had trouble stopping opponents on 3rd down (103rd nationally in rushing defense). In a tough spot between trips to FSU and Miami, UNC looks ripe for an upset here.

Indiana at #2 Ohio State -28.5, 2:30 ESPN:

There are conflicting angles here. The FPI/ Sagarin average spread is 33, marking the largest differential on the board. However, we see reverse line movement in the opposite direction, as the spread opened at 31 and has fallen despite 66% of public bets on the Buckeyes. Last week, RLM was the superior angle to computer differential, going 2-0 versus 0-2. Can IU keep this within four touchdowns? The Hoosiers currently rank 40th nationally in scoring defense with a much improved unit. The Buckeyes have looked pretty unstoppable offensively but it bears mention that in four games, the best defense they’ve faced so far ranks 83rd, and the average defense they’ve faced ranks 103rd. IU played them down to the wire last year and should enter the horseshoe confidently with a “nothing to lose” mentality off of last week’s upset win that will keep this game closer than most think. The Buckeyes are 4-0 ATS this season but we view that as contrarians, expecting mean reversion.

#21 Colorado at USC -4.5, 3:00 PAC12N

Are the Buffaloes for real? Both FPI and Sagarin see this game as a virtual pick em on a neutral field, so it depends how much stake one wants to place on the Trojan home field advantage. The USC offense finally came alive last week in a 41-20 thrashing of Arizona State that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated. 61% of public bets are on the underdog here which is the highest on the card, and as stated before, that’s a betting trend we like to fade when possible. Colorado’s improvement thus far this season has been a great storyline, but their schedule strength to this point ranks 80th nationally while USC’s ranks 4th. The Buffaloes are 5-0 ATS this season but we view that as contrarians, expecting mean reversion.

#1 Alabama -13.5 at #16 Arkansas, 6:00 ESPN

The FPI/ Sagarin computers see the Tide covering here, with an average fair spread of about 16 points. The public disagrees and supports Arkansas, with 57% of spread bets falling on the Razorback side. With the hook on the right side for Alabama supporters, this looks like a slow-burn cover for the visitors. Arkansas gave up 45 points to Texas A&M and while the nighttime home environment could help, Bama is even more formidable offensively than the Aggies. It is hard to imagine the Razorbacks scoring enough against the Tide defense to cover here if Alabama scores in the 40s, especially as their weak offensive line presents an extreme matchup problem to say the least.

#5 Washington -8.5 at Oregon, 6:30 FOX:

On first glance this line almost appears so obvious as to be a trap, and bettors agree, with a card-high 75% on the side of the Huskies. The FPI/ Sagarin average fair spread of 11 supports this assessment, however. Oregon has won the last 12 meetings and you have to assume Washington is eager to dethrone the Ducks’ reign above the Pac 12 North once and for all. It is hard to imagine the Oregon defense- which is a complete mess at 106th nationally- keeping this game close against an offense that ranks 7th, at home or not. The Ducks start a freshman quarterback and look completely disorganized currently. Take the free square…

#23 Florida State at #10 Miami -2.5, 7:00 ABC:

The Noles have won the last 6 meetings but come in as a road dog after a disappointing start to the season. Somewhat surprisingly, they aren’t a “public dog”, as 55% of spread wagers fall on the Miami side of this line. The FPI and Sagarin computers disagree on the winner, but with an average spread of Pick ‘Em, do agree that the spread is too large. Miami is off to a great start under new head coach Mark Richt, ranking 4th nationally in scoring offense and 2nd in scoring defense (only three other teams- Ohio State, Michigan and Washington- rank in the top 10 in each). The difference is the competition, as Miami’s schedule strength to date ranks 112th and Florida State’s ranks 3rd. We’ll take the points here in a game where FPI likes the Noles to win- the only game on the board where a computer favors an underdog outright.

UCLA -9.5 at Arizona State, 9:30 ESPN2:

Again a few angles we like to play conflict with each other here in the card’s toughest call. The FPI/ Sagarin computer averages see the fair line at 6, which is the largest underdog divergence on the card. However, we see some strange spread action as the line has moved from 7.5 to as high as 10 despite 61% of public bets on the Sun Devils. This extreme reverse line movement and public underdog interest trumps the computers. On a common sense level, UCLA is probably not getting the credit they deserve, having lost just twice to highly regarded teams in games that they had every right to win- in overtime against Texas A&M and against Stanford after leading for all but three minutes. Arizona State ranks 128th (that’s last!) nationally in passing defense, so Josh Rosen and his 24th ranked Bruin passing attack figures to have its way.

College Football Week 5 Picks

Posted September 29, 2016 by The Enthusiast
Categories: Sports

This week we have two games involving teams who have played mutual opponents and two games involving reverse line movement, both of which are angles that I love!

#7 Stanford at #10 Washington -3.5, 8:00 ESPN, Friday:

Sagarin has Stanford -4 as the fair spread, which is the largest single computer divergence on the card, while FPI thinks Huskies -3.5 is dead on. This is the only game on the slate where the computers disagree on the winner. On the flip side, Stanford is taking 62% of public bets, in spite of which the line has not moved. Tough call balancing the computers vs the sharp money, but we lean towards taking the points here with the hook on the wrong side of the Huskies. Neither team looked great last week and either could have easily lost to an inferior opponent but Stanford has the bigger game-changer in their corner in what should be a close one down to the wire.

#22 Texas at Oklahoma State -2.5, 11:00 ABC:

The ND and Cal losses last weekend really took the shine off of Texas in a hurry. FPI/ Sagarin average fair line is -6 for the home team, who wasn’t disgraced against a Baylor team last week that is probably a lot better than people think at this point in time. 58% of public bets are on Texas which has moved the hook to the right side of the Cowboys.

North Carolina at #12 Florida State -11.5, 2:30 ESPN:

FSU 45-Ole Miss 34. Ole Miss 45-Georgia 14. Georgia 33- UNC 24. So FSU wins by 51 via transitive property. Line looks fair according to the computers and betting trends show some sharp bettors on UNC, but we’ll lean towards the form lines here even as the favorite takes 70% of public spread bets. As noted opening weekend, UNC’s main weakness is its rushing D, and this Noles rushing attack is statistically even stronger than Georgia’s is.

#8 Wisconsin at #4 Michigan -10.5, 2:30 ABC:

This line appears to be begging you to take Wisconsin. Wisconsin is taking 62% of spread bets but causing no line movement, so the sharps are on the Wolverines, and this is a classic “fade the trendy dog” play. For support, the FPI/ Sagarin average spread is -13.5. This seems like a lot of points in what figures to be a defensive struggle but the feeling is that Michigan, being 4th nationally in scoring offense, will have a massive edge moving the ball, as Wisconsin ranks just 63rd and still has questions at QB. Wins over LSU and Michigan State by Wisconsin don’t look as impressive following last week’s results, as LSU lost to Auburn, and MSU’s claim to fame was weakened as Notre Dame suffered an embarrassing home loss to Duke.

#11 Tennessee -3.5 at #25 Georgia, 2:30 CBS:

The week’s largest spread divergence from the computers, with the FPI/Sagarin average spread at -9. The public agrees that this is a strange spread and has moved the line hook to the Vols’ side thanks to 76% support after Vegas opened it -3. Georgia seems very unbalanced offensively and Nick Chubb is listed as questionable. Tennessee seemed to really find its groove offensively in the second half against a far better Florida defense. It is never easy on the road in between the hedges but these two teams look to be headed in different directions currently.

Oklahoma -3.5 at #21 TCU, 4:00 FOX:

Spread opened -2 which is fair by the computers, but 70% of public money on the Sooners has driven the move. With the hook now on the wrong side of the line for Sooner supporters, this is the toughest call of the day. TCU’s strength is in its passing game and although Oklahoma’s secondary has struggled thus far (82nd in passing defense), they have the talent to be a top ten unit by the end of the season. TCU’s pass defense has been even worse against lesser competition (88th), which should allow Baker Mayfield to open up the OU passing game and as a result lead the Sooners to really do some damage on the ground thanks to the balance, which was a struggle in two losses to tougher opponents than this one.

#17 Michigan State -6.5 at Indiana, 7:00 BTN:

Sparty’s win at ND doesn’t look as impressive as it once did and they just took a clobbering at home while looking completely inept offensively in a 30-6 loss to Wisconsin. FPI/ Sagarin average has the fair spread at -3.5. We see reverse line movement as well with 74% of public bets on Sparty, as the line has actually moved towards IU from -8.5, indicating sharp money on the Hoosiers. It’s fair to wonder again whether this Spartan offense might just be bad, and while Indiana’s defense is certainly a step down from Wisconsin’s, it’s actually probably a bit better than Notre Dame’s is (41st vs 101st), which is a crazy statistic.

#3 Louisville -1.5 at #5 Clemson, 7:00 ABC:

The week’s largest line move as this opened Clemson -3.5, thanks to 61% of public spread bets on Louisville. Computers see this as a Pick’Em, so there appears to be some edge in taking the home team in the day’s biggest game. Louisville’s offense has been downright scary, but Clemson’s defense, despite losing a lot from last year’s squad, will be its toughest test yet and is being underestimated by many- the Tigers rank 3rd nationally in total defense and 5th in scoring defense coming into this. Clemson’s high-powered offense should be able to score more efficiently than Florida State did in their embarrassing loss to this opponent and in truth, if you had known you could get points on Clemson at home in this game before the season started, which side would you have been on?

Arizona State at USC -9.5, 7:30 FOX:

Tons of sharp money on the USC dumpster fire. Spread opened -7.5 and we see reverse line movement as it has risen 2 points despite 72% of public bets on ASU. That makes the Sun Devils the trendiest dog on the board, and that in combination with the RLM and USC in desperation mode all in play pointing to the home favorite covering here. The reality is that while 1-3, all of the Trojans’ losses have come against ranked opponents in improved efforts, and Arizona State’s 104th ranked scoring defense offers a chance to make a statement in a prime time home game.

Arizona at UCLA -13.5, 9:30 ESPN:

UCLA 17- BYU 14. BYU 18- Arizona 16. UCLA wins by 5 via transitive property. Computers see the fair spread around -12.5, and this line has risen from -10.5 off the strength of just 51% public support for the home team, so there is some sharp interest in a Bruin blowout. Still, Arizona wasn’t disgraced in an overtime loss to Washington and while the Wildcats are a bit banged up on offense, this seems like too many points for a UCLA team that has looked challenged offensively to this point (101st in Scoring Offense).