Turkeys, Rivalries and Upsets!

Thanksgiving week, which means the middle of the NFL campaign while winding down
the college football regular season. Late season college football means heated
races for conference titles and bowl berths, plus rivalries that span decades.
These games can have far more importance for players than September/October

Oklahoma/Ok-State, USC/UCLA, Florida/Florida State, Georgia/Georgia
Tech, Michigan/Ohio State and Auburn/Alabama bring out extra intensity and
emotion. Alabama is in dynasty mode under Nick Saban, eyeing another national
title. With all these titles, you might not remember that they had to battle
rival Auburn to stay unbeaten during their run four years ago and barely won,
26-21, as 10-point chalk. Then they upset rival Florida for a chance to advance
to the national title game. Three years ago it was Auburn turning the tables on
Alabama with a sensational comeback on the way to the national title. Late
season football and rivalry games can mean intensity that can transcend some
betting numbers, especially large ones.

A few years ago Texas Tech was a 29-point dog and won at Oklahoma, 41-38, and Iowa State was a 27-point dog late in the year against unbeaten Oklahoma State, but pulled a 37-31 OT shocker on
national TV. Remember all the upsets late in 2007? Pitt got fired up to play
West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl and won as a +28 dog, while Missouri knocked
off unbeaten Kansas. Athletes might not always admit it, but playing on national
television can help raise their games a notch, such as Thanksgiving week and
conference title tilts in December. There have been many memorable upsets, too.
One holiday season there were 12 college and pro football games played Thursday
and Friday of Thanksgiving weekend, and the underdog was 11-1 against the
spread. Five dogs won straight up, including Colorado as a 10-point dog smashing
Nebraska 62-36, the No. 2 ranked team in the nation. 2007 was the Year of Upsets
in college football: Michigan losing to Appalachian State, Louisville losing to
Syracuse, No. 1 LSU losing in three overtimes to Kentucky, USC losing to
Stanford as 42-point chalk and No. 1 Ohio State losing at home as a 15-point
favorite to Illinois all shocked and muddled the BCS picture. Here is a list of
the biggest college football upsets of all time: 2007 Stanford (+42) tops USC,
24-23 2007 Syracuse (+39) at Louisville, 38-35 1985 Oregon State (+36) tops
Washington, 21-20 1985 UTEP (+36) over BYU, 23-16
1998 Temple (+35½) beats
Virginia Tech, 28-24 2007 Appalachian St (+35) at Michigan, 34-32 1972 Missouri
(+35) beat Notre Dame, 30-26 1974 Purdue (+34) at Notre Dame, 31-20 2011 Texas
Tech (+29) at Oklahoma, 41-38 1992 Iowa State (+29) over Nebraska, 19-10 1969
San Jose State (+29) at Oregon, 36-34 1995 Northwestern (+28) over Notre Dame,
17-15 2007 Pitt (+28) tops West Virginia, 13-9 1942 Holy Cross (+28) beats
Boston College, 55-12 2007 was a historic year, nearly monopolizing the list,
with four of the biggest upsets ever, including the top two. One thing that
stands out is the number of “public teams” like Notre Dame, Nebraska and
Michigan that got upset.

This is an example of how oddsmakers have to add points
to public teams, as well as how smaller schools can get fired up to face
big-name schools, such as Toledo winning at Michigan this season. It doesn’t
always help to be one of the top teams in the polls as opponents can be gunning
for you. Many will recall No. 1 Ohio State going down in 2007 as Illinois
surprised them, 28-21. Few recall that a year earlier Ohio State was also No. 1
in the nation and as a 25-point favorite at Illinois, the Buckeyes had to hang
on for dear life in a 17-10 win. The Illini was gunning for No. 1 for a
signature win. In a sense, it was Illinois’ bowl game in 2006 with their season
winding down, so they played all out. That same day, No. 2 Michigan had to hold
on as a 32-point favorite against Ball State, a 34-26 win, two games that nearly
disrupted their No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown. Not only can the opponent be fired up,
but the big favorite might not be taking the game seriously. After the Ball
State game, Michigan quarterback Chad Henne said, “I think that is a lot of the
reason why we weren’t focused. Coming into the game, people were reading too
many press clippings.” Six years ago Boston College got to No. 2 in the polls at
one point, their highest ranking since 1942

. You’ll notice on the upset list
that the BC Eagles are on there. In late November of ’42, BC was unbeaten and
ranked No. 1 in the nation, closing in on the school’s first national
championship. In the final tune-up before the bowls, BC played a 4-4-1 Holy
Cross team and was a 4-TD favorite. Yet, it was a rivalry game and fired-up Holy
Cross flattened the No. 1 ranked Eagles 55-12 in one of the biggest upsets ever.
Pitt did something similar three years ago when they stunned rival West
Virginia, 13-9. Those are good example of how rivalries can force bettors to
discount point spreads, or take a closer look at the dog, not to mention
high-profile games this time of the year.

Written by Jim Feist for VegasTopDogs.com

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