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March Madness Bracket
2015-02-15

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2013-01-30




CFL: Surprising Argos 10-point dogs at Montreal
2010-07-29

The Toronto Argonauts visit the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday as one of the most surprising stories of the young CFL season. At stake is a chance to claim sole possession of first place in the East Division. That might be the only reason to suspect a competitive game. Otherwise, most strength ratings, trends, and even the oddsmakers’ expect this to be a cakewalk for Montreal. Sportsbook.com lists the Alouettes as 10-point favorites. Can the Argos continue their unexpected surge or are the defending champs ready to put them in their place?

It was just last season when Toronto seemed destined for a lengthy rebuilding process, and an over-matched coaching staff lost the trust of its players and the control of a season. But the Argos have won three of their first four games in 2010 -- matching its total under the short-lived reign of coach Bart Andrus last year.

The Argos have won each of their last three games with a combination of stout defense and stellar special teams play -- the same kind of formula that delivered the franchise its last Grey Cup win, six years ago.

"We have a chance." offensive lineman Taylor Robertson said. "We believe. That's the difference."

Toronto rallied from a double-digit deficit to beat the B.C. Lions last week at Rogers Centre, nine days after squeaking out a 27-24 comeback win against the Calgary Stampeders. The Argos opened their run with a two-point win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Rookie running back Cory Boyd has established himself as the CFL's leading rusher, Chad Owens has been one of the league's most dynamic return men and only Calgary's defence has forced more turnovers. Boyd will be aiming to become the first Argos running back since Bill Symons in 1968 with four consecutive 100-yard games.

Those successes have helped to mask the struggles of first-year quarterback Cleo Lemon, whose offense ranks dead last in passing yards. Toronto is the only team in the league that has not thrown for at least 1,000 yards yet this season -- managing only 791.

In 2009, no team scored fewer points than the Argos, who were held below 20 points per game, on average. Toronto ranked last in rushing yards and second-last in passing yards. The team finished the season with a 3-15 record, missing the playoffs for the second straight year.

Andrus was fired in December, and the team officially announced it had hired Jim Barker two months later. The long-time CFL executive -- and former Argos head coach -- spent the rest of the winter rebuilding the team.

Toronto's new crew will certainly have a major test against the Alouettes. The defending Grey Cup champions have not lost a game at home since Oct. 29, 2008 and it was almost a year before that, Oct. 20, 2007, when Toronto last beat Montreal.

Since Toronto squeaked out that 16-9 win to salvage one game in the season series, the Argos have lost six straight games to the Alouettes by an average of a little more than 20 points.

According to oddsmakers and this week’s StatFox FoxSheet, bettors should expect much of the same on Thursday night. The StatFox Power Line shows that Montreal should be favored by about 21 points, rather than 10.

The Alouettes come in at 3-1, but unlike Toronto, who is being outscored by 1.3 PPG, are beating their opponents by an average of 8.5 PPG. That leads to a very significant trend going against the Argos:

• TORONTO is 1-8 ATS (-7.8 Units) versus good teams - outscoring opponents by 5+ PPG on the season over the last 3 seasons. The average score was TORONTO 16.7, OPPONENT 34.3 - (Rating = 1*)

Montreal has also been at its best against divisional foes during its recent run of success:

• MONTREAL is 15-6 ATS (+8.4 Units) versus division opponents over the last 3 seasons. The average score was MONTREAL 35.8, OPPONENT 18.9 - (Rating = 1*)

Most handicapping data seems to suggest a blowout, but momentum, confidence, and perhaps a bit of luck could be on the side of Toronto. We’ll see what wins out when the teams kickoff at 7:30 PM ET on Thursday night in Montreal.


CFB: Alamo Bowl - MICHIGAN STATE vs. TEXAS TECH (9:00 PM ET, ESPN)
2010-01-04

Texas Tech players are insisting that the Mike Leach controversy will not be a distraction to them in the Alamo Bowl game vs. Michigan State. Still, minus their long-time head coach, you have to wonder whether they are capable of pulling it together to beat the Spartans, much less cover the heavy TD-chalk line they are laying at Sportsbook.com.

The Alamo Bowl game has been one of the few lately that Big Ten fans can actually look forward to. Their teams are 8-5 SU and 10-3 ATS in the L13 editions. Unfortunately, this is the last time for the immediate future that the conference will be in the game, with the Pac-10 stepping in. Big Ten teams boast a 20-9-1 ATS record in their L30 bowl games as an underdog of four points or more, often the case in this bowl series. For this year’s game, Michigan State (6-6) is a seven-point underdog to Texas Tech, which finished 8-4. Ironically, it is the Spartans with the edge in several offensive categories, including pass yards per attempt. Tech has lost its L4 bowl games ATS and is 0-2 SU and ATS in its L2 Alamo Bowl appearances.

Sometimes analysis is right in front you and that makes breaking down a game simple. Texas Tech is the No. 2 passing team in the country and Michigan State is 103rd at stopping the pass. The Red Raiders are an ordinary 2-4 SU and 3-3 ATS versus other bowl participants. However, the Spartans are 1-4 SU and woebegone 0-5 ATS taking on the five teams they played that have postseason appearances. The Michigan State roster is thinner since it played its last game due to suspensions, but rallying the troops doesn’t protect a squad that played poorly against better competition and one that can’t stop passing teams. Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach has not covered his last four bowl games (2-2), but that stops against an undermanned Michigan State club. Play Texas Tech.

Top FoxSheets.com ATS Trend
MICHIGAN ST is 19-37 ATS (-21.7 Units) in road games in the second half of the season since 1992. The average score was MICHIGAN ST 23.4, OPPONENT 31.3 - (Rating = 1*)

Top FoxSheets.com Total Trend
TEXAS TECH is 17-6 OVER (+10.4 Units) versus excellent offensive teams - averaging >=6.25 yards/play since 1992. The average score was TEXAS TECH 31.9, OPPONENT 34.7 - (Rating = 1*)

ALAMO BOWL Series Trend: There are a few significant patterns that have formed in the Alamo Bowl series. First, the Big Ten team is 8-5 SU & 10-3 ATS in the L13 games. Second, the underdog is on a 6-7 SU & 8-5 ATS run, and third, UNDER the total has converted in nine of the 13 years. The last four times the point spread was greater than a TD, the dog covered. All signs point to a low-scoring Michigan State ATS win.